Forward Adrian Kempe notched game-winning goal and an assist to help the Ontario Reign (11-2-2-0) defeat the Stockton Heat (5-6-0-2), 2-1, at Citizens Business Bank Arena Wednesday night. With the win, Ontario extends its winning streak to three games.
The Reign jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when forward Justin Auger buried a shot past Stockton goaltenderKent Simpson (W, 23 saves on 25 shots) 54 seconds into the first period for his third goal of the season. Defenseman Nick Ebert and Kempe picked up the assists.
“It’s always good to get a goal right away there, you know it got the crowd into it,” said Auger. “It gets us into it [the game], to grab a 1-0 lead right away. It’s definitely the way you want to start a game.”
Forward Bill Arnold tied it up for the Heat with a power play goal at 8:17. Arnold took the puck to the front of the net and fired it past netminder Peter Budaj for his 17th career AHL goal.
With momentum building, Ontario battled back and scored the tiebreaker at 16:24 of the frame. From the left circle, Kempe buried a wrist past Simpson on the man advantage with help from defenseman Zach Leslie and forward Jonny Brodzinski.
“It was nice to have a power play goal again tonight … it was a pretty tough game and we need to get better in our own zone, but I’m happy with how we played,” commented Kempe after the match.
Both teams traded a couple of chances in the middle stanza, but could not capitalize and remained 2-1 after 40 minutes.
After a quiet second period, the Reign pressured the Heat but Simpson was strong in the net turning aside all six bids. Budaj was just as successful, stopping all six shots in the same frame. He earned the victory with 18 saves on 19 shots.