Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid netted his first professional goal, goaltender Peter Budaj earned his eighth win of the season and the Ontario Reign (8-1-2-0) edged the San Jose Barracuda (3-6-0-1), 2-1, at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday night.
MacDermid put the Reign up 1-0 at 11:11 of the first period when he took the puck to the front of the net off a pass from forward Ryan Horvat and slid it into the net for a goal. Horvat earned the assist and forwardValentin Zykov picked up the secondary assist.
The first period consisted of plenty of offensive pushes with a few quality chances for the Reign. Ontario’s efforts proved successful when forward Adrian Kempe fed the puck to forward Sean Backman who snapped it right over Barracuda netminder Aaron Dell’s left pad for a 2-0 lead with 1:45 remaining in the first. Forward Justin Auger earned the secondary assist. With the goal, Backman extends his point total to a team-high 11 points (two goals, nine assists).
“Backs is great. He’s a good leader for us and he’s one of the hardest working guys every day whether it’s practice or games,” said Head Coach Mike Stothers. “His energy rubs off on everybody. He’s a small guy that plays big and plays a big game.”
After outshooting San Jose 11-5 in the first 20 minutes, the Reign broke out in the middle frame, dominating with their speed.
The Barracuda battled back, however, reducing the deficit to one with a goal at 10:38. Forward Jeremy Langlois skated through the slot, deked MacDermid and fired a shot past Budaj for his third goal of the season.
The tempo lessened in the third period and forward Andrew Crescenzi came close for a tally, breezing past three Barracuda defenders and tried to maneuver his way past Dell but ran over him on his way into the net. Crescenzi was called for a penalty that gave San Jose their first power play opportunity of the night. Not to be defeated, Ontario limited the Barracuda to one shot on the power play and kept San Jose out of the zone.
The Barracuda came close to scoring in the final minutes, coming up with a 5-on-3 opportunity after Zykov went to the penalty box on a call for too many men on the ice and defenseman Vincent LoVerde joined on a high sticking penalty.
Ontario held San Jose off and came away with the victory. Budaj earned the win with 16 saves while Dell stopped 23.