By Brenda Acuna
Photo by Jessica Harsen
Ontario, CA – Forward Jonny Brodzinsky scored the game-winning goal 56 seconds into overtime to hand the Ontario Reign (2-0-0-0) a 6-5 home-opening triumph over the Texas Stars (2-1-1-0) on Friday night in front of a crowd of 7,861 at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena.
“I took a slap shot and it fortunately went in,” said Brodzinsky after the game. “ …Every time we play these guys, it seems to be a shootout.”
Strong special teams play and three points from defenseman Vincent LoVerde paced Ontario to a good start of the game. The Stars converted on 2 of 5 power play opportunities and the Reign finished with 3-of-6.
“We had a few chances on the power play tonight. I thought we worked it pretty good. We’ll be better moving forward,” added Brodzinsky.
Ontario jumped to a quick lead at 3:44 of the opening frame when defenseman Zach Leslie launched a shot from the high slot that beat Stars netminder Maxime Lagace on the power play. Forwards Mike Amadio and TJ Hensick picked up the assists, sending a breakout pass to Leslie for his first tally of the season. LoVerde extended the lead at 7:27 with help from forward Brett Sutter and defenseman Kurtis MacDermid. Less than a minute later, Stars forward Matej Stransky put his team on the board, slipping one past Reign netminder Jack Campbell for his second goal of the season. At 14:03, LoVerde buried his second marker of the night, shorthanded, on a feed from forward Justin Auger who forced a turnover for the assist. Moments later, Ontario gets a big power play opportunity after defenseman Julius Honka is handed a five-minute major for boarding. Looking to capitalize, LoVerde sends a swift pass to an open Hensick who slides it behind Lagace to make it 4-1.
Hensick has shown a knack for getting behind the opposition’s defense, finding a seam and space for his second goal of the season.
When asked about the newcomer, Coach Mike Stothers spoke of the forward with ease. “First of all, he’s a very good hockey player. He’s always been able to create offense and get some points, and he’s learning rapidly the pace and the work ethic that’s required to play in this organization.”
The Reign looked to continue their momentum, but ran into some trouble once forward Michael Latta drew a penalty for slashing in the second period. Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk scored, tipping a shot in front and sliding it past Campbell 10 seconds into the power play. The Reign’s struggles continued in the period, handing the Stars three power play opportunities in the middle frame alone. At 12:59 while on the power play, Honka scored to put Texas within one. The Stars continued to keep Ontario on their heels defensively, but the Reign added to their lead at 17:45 when forward Michael Mersch buried a rebound off a Brodzinski shot to make it 5-3.
In the final period, the Stars pressured offensively, scoring two more goals to even the score, and send the game into overtime. Brodzinski sealed the victory in overtime assisted by defenseman Kevin Gravel and forward Adrian Kempe.
Campbell allowed five goals on 35 shots for the victory while Lagace made 25 saves on 31 attempts.
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