Peter Budaj made 28 saves for his third shutout of the season and the Ontario Reign (5-0-0-0) extended their winning streak to five games with a 3-0 victory over the San Jose Barracuda (2-3-0-1) at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday night.
“We had a good start in the game and we were focused. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” said Budaj. “After last night, I think the emotions ran high and it shows the character of the team that we have and we battled through it to win.”
The Reign opened the scoring when forward Andrew Crescenzi fired a shot past Barracuda netminder Troy Grosenick at 1:07 for a 1-0 lead. Defensemen Zach Leslie and Jordan Samuels-Thomas picked up the assists. Budaj made five stops as the Reign outshot San Jose, 12-5, in the first period.
In the second frame, Ontario continued to apply pressure offensively, and were given a power play opportunity at 9:45 after the Barracuda were called for too many men on the ice, but could not capitalize. Moments later, San Jose defenseman Mark Cundari was called for cross-checking, giving the Reign another power play chance that came up short. Both teams continued to play a quiet second period as Budaj continued to deny the Barracuda offense, making 10 stops in the frame.
Rookie Adrian Kempe put the Reign up 2-0 at 4:12 of the third period, scoring on the power play for his first goal of the season. Sean Backman was credited with the assist and Justin Auger received the secondary.
Forward Michael Mersch secured the win with an empty-net goal at 19:14. The Reign finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play while the Barracuda went 0-for-5.
Grosenick made 12 saves before exiting after the first period due to injury. Aaron Dellstopped 14 Reign chances in over 37 minutes of action.