Ontario Reign forward Justin Auger tied the game with a backhand between-the-legs shot with less than four minutes left in regulation, but the San Antonio Rampage (4-0-1-0) came away with a goal in overtime to prevail 3-2 at Citizens Business Bank Arena Friday night.
The loss snaps the Reign’s (5-0-1-0) five-game winning streak, but remain unbeaten in regulation.
“They’re a big physical team and we just have to come out and compete every time against them. You know we knew they’d come out hard, and like I said, I thought we played great and we just ended up with two points,” Auger said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep playing hard and keep pushing a bit.”
It was a battle between netminders as Reign’s Peter Budaj made 12 stops throughout a scoreless first period while the Rampage’s Calvin Pickard recorded 10 saves.
Locked up for all of the first period, both teams continued to tally more shots on goal in the second frame before Ontario blew the game wide open, scoring at 8:55 when forward Nic Dowd buried a shot past Pickard to take a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid picked up the assist, his second of the season.
The Reign continued to build on their momentum, but Pickard remained solid in the net, denying all seven shots to keep Ontario off the board.
Budaj was put to the test with San Antonio pressing and they eventually slipped one past the netminder at 13:43 thanks to forward Troy Bourke who fed the puck to defenseman Zach Redmond for the goal. Rampage forward Borna Rendulic earned the secondary assist.
Tied at one, the Reign were awarded their third power play opportunity after forward Patrick Bordeleau was called for high sticking at 15:42 of the second period and Ontario set up the man advantage, but came up short.
It was a 1-1 affair headed into the final frame when the Rampage claimed their first lead of the game on a 5-on-3 power play goal as forward Andrew Crescenzi was sent to the penalty box for roughing followed by a slashing call on forward Ryan Horvat. Rampage forward Colin Smith tucked it away for his second goal of the campaign at 8:05.
Ontario quickly picked up their momentum, applying pressure to the net when Auger slipped in his power-play tally between Pickard’s legs to tie the game at 16:33. The goal came off a rebound from forward Adrian Kempe.
Later in the period, forward Michael Mersch slipped in a scoring chance to put Pickard on high alert, but he mustered the save at 1:20. After outshooting the Rampage, 14-8 in the third frame, the game remained tied at the end of regulation.
Forward Ben Street scored the game-winner at 4:23 to close the game for San Antonio.
Budaj finished with 25 saves and Pickard stopped 35 to earn the win.
“I thought it was a great hockey game,” said Head Coach Mike Stothers. “Two good teams … I was happy with the way that we played. I thought that we played a good hockey game and I thought that they played a good hockey game. I’m looking forward to tomorrow afternoon.”