The Ontario Reign needed a shootout to defeat the Elmira Jackals, 5-4, in a thrilling back-and-forth game Friday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena
Ontario jumped out to an early lead in the first period when Jordan Morrison and Chaz Johnson hooked up on a 2-on-1 just 2:14 in. Morrison dished the puck over to Johnson who drove to the net on his backhand and fired the puck just inside the post, past goalie Garret Zemlak, for the 1-0 lead.
The intensity picked up quickly at the Bank, as Ontario’s Dusty Collins and Elmira’s Drew Paris dropped the gloves midway through the first. Minutes later, Ontario’s James McEwan and Elmira’s Chris Frank squared off, with McEwan getting an extra two minutes from a roughing call before the fight.
On the ensuing Jackals power-play, Justin Donati blasted a slap-shot that was saved by the Reign’s netminder, Beau Erickson, but Michael Dubuc put home the rebound to tie the game up at one.
Late in the opening frame on a power-play, Ontario’s Shawn Collymore broke the tie when he picked the puck up at the low face-off dot and rifled a wrist shot short side over Zemlak’s shoulder to take a 2-1 lead.
With 38 seconds left in a wild first period, the Jackals, Patrick Coulombe, received a pass in the slot from Brock McBride and snapped the puck off left post and in, tying the game at two apiece.
In the second, the Reign’s Aaron Lewadniuk was awarded a penalty shot at 13:20 but was denied by Zemlak. Lewadniuk deked to his backhand, but Zemlak made a big pad save to keep the game tied at two.
Early in the third, Elmira’s Andrew Sweetland broke the stalemate when he roofed the puck on his backhand over Erickson’s glove hand to take a 3-2 lead.
With 7:53 remaining in the third, Johnson evened the score when he hammered in his second of the night. Johnson received a pass in the slot from Justin Taylor and rocketed the one-timer past Zemlek to tie the game at three.
Minutes later, the Jackals took back their one goal lead when Sweetland scored his second of the night to take a 4-3 lead.
However, the lead was short-lived, as Collymore buried his second of the night just minutes later. Collymore received a pass in the high slot from Alex Bourret and whistled the puck past Zemlak’s blocker to tie the game at four.
Fittingly so, nothing was decided in regulation or overtime, so this game needed a shootout to find its winner. In the shootout, Sweetland struck first for the Jackals, but Morrison tied the game back up on Ontario’s next attempt. In the end, Taylor scored on the Reign’s final attempt and Erickson made a huge save on the Jackals last shooter to give their team the 5-4 shootout victory.
Erickson turned away 29 shots for his fifth win of the season. Zemlak made 20 saves in the loss.
These two teams will be back on the ice Saturday night for their second match of a three-game series in Ontario.