Mersch, Budaj Lead Reign Past Moose, 4-1Jan 20, 2016
Michael Mersch scored a goal and tallied two assists to power the Ontario Reign (22-10-2-1) past the Manitoba Moose (11-21-2-3), 4-1, on Wednesday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
“It was great to have all four lines going tonight,” said Mersch. “It allowed us to keep everybody fresh on the bench … we had everybody contributing and scoring goals and it’s time to win games.”
Netminder Peter Budaj recorded his 200th professional win with 23 saves. The Reign have won three of the last four games.
Manitoba scored first at 6:37 of the first period after Chase De Leo fed the puck to forward Nic Petan who fired it past Budaj.
At 16:04, Ontario tied it up with a power-play goal from Valentin Zykov. Jeff Schultz made a pass across the ice to Mersch who found Zykov for his fifth goal of the season.
Mersch netted his team-leading 13th goal of the 2015-16 campaign, his first since returning from the Los Angeles Kings, at 16:01 of the middle stanza with a slap shot from the left point with help from Derek Army and Justin Auger.
Just 58 seconds later, Ryan Horvat extended the Reign lead, 3-1, assisted by Derek Forbort and Jordan Samuels-Thomas. Forbort’s shot tipped in the front of the net and Horvat shoveled it past Eric Comrie to secure a two-point lead. Comrie finished the night with 27 stops.
Manitoba’s closest chance came in the third period as they pulled Comrie for the extra attacker while on the power play, but the Reign defense kept them off the board.
Less than two minutes later, the Reign went on a power play of their own after the Moose were called for too many men on the ice. Comrie left the net once again, and Sean Backman buried a shot into the wide open net on a Mersch pass.
“We are comfortable. We know each other, our tendencies and whatnot,” said Backman regarding his chemistry with Mersch and forward Nic Dowd. “We just come and play our game every night.”