Tucson stunned, yet a point richer, in 7-6 overtime loss to Ontario
By: Alexander Kinkopf
November 25, 2018 6:42 PM
Goals came in bunches yet again for the Roadrunners Sunday afternoon, but they let a healthy lead slip away in their 7-6 overtime loss to the Ontario Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Working with a four-goal cushion with 15 minutes left in regulation, the Reign rallied for five unanswered to absolutely stun the Roadrunners in a contest that was figured to be all but won.
“You’ve just got to move on,” Dakota Mermis said postgame. “Obviously it’s disappointing, and frustrating to finish the game that way with the lead we had in the third. You’ve just got to move forward and prepare for the next game.”
The teams traded tallies in the opening frame, Mario Kempe opening the scoring with his fifth goal of the season when he beat Michael Leighton with a shot to the far side, giving the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead just over a minute in.
A mere 15 seconds after Ontario’s Drake Rymsha tied the game 1-1, Conor Garland reclaimed a lead for the Roadrunners, depositing a backhand from the top of the crease to put Tucson up 2-1.
Brad Morrison would respond for the Reign, evening the score 2-2 after one period of play.
Tyler Steenbergen netted the second period’s lone goal, the first of his professional career, when he snuck behind coverage and beat Leighton to the glove side, giving the Roadrunners a 3-2 lead. Merrick Madsen registered his first pro point on the goal, credited with the secondary assist.
To open the third, the Roadrunners went on another furious offensive attack, scoring three goals in a 2:52 span to take what seemed to be a commanding, comfortable 6-2 lead.
Dysin Mayo started the team’s flurry, finding open space to one-time a Michael Bunting pass into the net to score his first of the season, upping Tucson’s lead to 4-2.
Quick to follow suit, David Ullstrom, trailing a rush, stepped into a drop pass to register his sixth goal of the season, giving the Roadrunners a 5-2 advantage.
Not to be outdone, Brayden Burke continued his hot streak when he pick-pocketed an Ontario defender before skating in alone to score his fifth of the year with a nifty move to his forehand, giving the Roadrunners a seemingly guaranteed victory by extending their lead to 6-2.
The Reign would score four goals in 9:55 to make things even on the scoreboard before the end of regulation.
Merrick Madsen was pulled following Ontario’s fifth goal; he finished the night with 18 saves on 23 shots in 51:53 of action.
Ontario’s Brett Sutter clinched the game 2:52 into the extra frame, beating Hunter Miska to secure a 7-6 win for the Reign. It served as the Roadrunners’ first overtime loss of the season.
“They’re a big, physical team, and it’s tough sometimes because that wears you down and we’ve got to find ways to push through that,” Mermis added of Ontario. “We’re lucky, we get to go right back at them during our next game and try to right this.”
The team now returns home to Tucson for a week of practice before returning to Citizens Business Bank Arena to take on the Ontario Reign next Sunday at 4:00 PM PST.
Photos courtesy: Ontario Reign