Brett Sutter scored twice and the Ontario Reign (37-14-4-1) rallied to defeat the San Antonio Rampage (24-33-8-0), 5-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 on Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Jonny Brodzinski added a goal and two assists, while Justin Auger had a goal and an assist.
“I have faith in our guys,” said Head Coach Mike Stothers. “It’s not too often - with the exception of the most recent game in San Jose -- that we were brutal from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer. That doesn’t happen to often with this group.”
The Rampage struck first in the opening period when Sam Henley scored on a deflected shot over netminder Peter Budaj at 1:41. With seven minutes remaining in the frame, Borna Rendulic took a feed from the corner and buried the puck into the net to extend the Rampage lead.
The Reign tried to generate offense any way they could, ultimately leading in shots, 9-6, but trailed 2-0 at the end of the first 20 minutes.
Ontario turned the game around at 8:03 of the middle stanza when Kris Newbury banked a quick pass up the ice to Auger, who buried a wrist shot from the left side to put Ontario within one. The Reign played with pace the rest of the night as Sutter evened the score, banging home a shot from the inside circle with 1:20 remaining in the period.
The Reign continued to make an obvious push in the final frame, and Brodzinski found the back of the net on the power play at 3:53.
Less than two minutes later, Ontario responded with another goal, Sutter’s second of the night with help from Nic Dowd and Auger.
At 6:59, forward Sean Backman recorded a goal of his own to cap the Reign scoring.
Budaj earned his AHL-leading 35th win of the season with 19 saves. Rampage goaltender Roman Will made 27 saves before being pulled in favor of Spencer Martin.