The Ontario Reign kicked off their Calder Cup defense and inaugural season in style last Saturday, dominating Edmonton affiliate Bakersfield Condors 5-0.
The Condors never had a chance. Ontario's defensive discipline was stifling, while their forecheck feasted. Ultimately, Bakersfield was doomed by their own carelessness with the puck and netminder Laurent Brossoit's poor rebound control. Some player observations:
- Mersch was magnificent, demonstrating that he was neither fazed by his demotion nor the loss of star linemates Jordan Weal and Brian O'Neill. He created multiple scoring chances with his forecheck, including a couple while shorthanded. Looking at home with new linemates Nic Dowd and Valentin Zykov, he led the team with seven shots on goal. The most impactful forward on either side, this was a statement game by the strapping winger. Check out his quick hands and feet here:
- Zykov didn't look out of place in his AHL debut, slipping free for a pair of Grade-A scoring chances. However, he once again fell victim to his zeal, taking a first period offensive zone hooking which Bakersfield color man Ryan Holt accurately characterized as "kind of a silly penalty to take." This was a problem at the recent rookie games too.
- Also making his pro debut, Kurtis MacDermid did a lot of things right, displaying his trademark physicality and strength with a couple of bone-crunching checks. More importantly, he moved the puck reasonably well. Perhaps not surprisingly, however, the former Erie Otter took himself dramatically out of position once while going for a big hit. As an isolated incident, it's no big deal, but it's something to monitor with this aggressive defender.
Before we get to the game's scoring chance and puck possession stats, please keep in mind that all figures are estimated. After all, this is the stream I'm dealing with—it's an arena cam:
I didn't edit the clip; that's the segue.
The Reign continue play on Thursday in Manitoba.
Even Strength Scoring Chances
Even Strength Corsi
Individual Even Strength Corsi
9 Kempe - 11 Newbury - 16 Backman
27 Mersch - 26 Dowd - 7 Zykov
39 Auger - 21 Crescenzi - 25 Sabourin
15 Bissonnette - 24 Horvat - 12 Brodzinski
2 MacDermid - 5 Loverde
4 Gravel - 6 McBain
23 Ebert - 33 Raine
17 Miller - 26 Draisaitl - 25 Pakarinen
27 Winquist - 39 Yakimov - 9 Pitlick
19 Moroz - 10 McRae - 11 Ford
23 Christoffer - 7 Khaira - 14 Platzer
4 Nurse - 13 LaLeggia
15 Oesterle - 29 Hunt
24 Pageau - 6 Musil