Derek Forbort scored the lone goal for the Ontario Reign (37-15-4-1), but it was not enough in a 4-1 loss to the San Diego Gulls (33-21-2-2) in front of a crowd of 9,169 on Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
“I thought we had a slow start,” said forward Nic Dowd after the game. “Not only that, but we gave up two goals in the first minute of both periods and those hurt any time when you give up a goal like that. It sets up the tone for the whole period. Our starts obviously have to be better.”
The Gulls got off to a fast start, scoring at 1:25 of the first period when forward Corey Troppshot the puck past Reign netminder Peter Budaj. Ontario looked for the equalizer, tacking on 11 shots throughout the period that were all turned away by goaltender Anton Khudobin.
San Diego broke open the middle period taking control of the momentum when forward Ondrej Kase gave the Gulls a 2-0 lead, firing a shot past Budaj from the right circle at 1:33. The Gulls dictated the pace in the middle period, outshooting Ontario, 10-4.
The action continued in furious fashion in the third frame as Budaj was tested time and again by the Gulls’ pressing offense. Forward Antoine Laganiere tilted the score in favor of San Diego for good at 9:37 as Tropp and defenseman Shea Theodore conspired to feed him the puck. At 12:21, defenseman Derek Forbort scored his first goal of the season when he took a pass from forward Adrian Kempe and put it behind Khudobin, denying him of his shutout bid.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, forward Stefan Noesen deposited a bullet into the corner of the Reign empty net to put the Gulls up, 4-1, as Ontario’s eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1-0) came to a close.
Khudobin came away with the victory with 22 saves, while Budaj made 24 stops on 27 chances.
“They’re [San Diego Gulls] a good team. I thought their goalie played well. We have to contribute on the power play to win games like this,” said Dowd.