OJR Earn Gritty 4-1 Win Against Undefeated Vernal Oilers

by Sebastian Abdon Ibarra

The unbeaten Vernal Oilers (5-1-1) are unbeaten no more as the Ontario Jr Reign (8-4-0) earned their fourth straight win with their 4-1 victory on Friday night. Special teams play was critical in this matchup, as the Jr Reign converted on a power play in a crucial spot and were able to kill every power play opportunity the Oilers had, including a 4-on-3 toward the end of the game. 

Ontario created opportunities for themselves early in the first period, but were thwarted by Vernal’s defenders. However, the Jr Reign continued to play smart and aggressive, outshooting the Oilers 18-9 in the period. A couple of early unlucky bounces off the post for Ontario kept the game scoreless, but it was plain to see that they had the Oilers on the backfoot. The Jr Reign’s effort in the first period was rewarded when Nicholas Fiolleau and Tristen Lam found Baden Powell near the blue line for an absolute cannon of a one timer to put Ontario up 1-0 with less than five minutes left in the first period. The goal was the smooth skating Powells 2nd in as many games. 

Early in the second period, the Oilers committed a critical mental mistake and got caught with too many men on the ice to earn themselves a two minute penalty. It was a mistake that Ontario needed to capitalize on and they absolutely did. After helping the Jr Reign get on the board earlier with a priamy assist, Fiolleau buried a cross seam shot blocker side and put the Jr Reign up 2-0 with helpers from Rhys Doyle and the Captain Eamon Julian. 

Ontario had excellent command over the puck on both ends of the ice throughout the night. In fact, Ontario recorded their fewest turnover total of the season in this game. The ability to possess the puck for extended periods of time allowed them to create a number of scoring opportunities. 

The Jr Reign lead was cut in half near the midway point of the second period, but who else other than Kaedin Larocque-Wolfe the OJR's leading scorer replied on a odd man rush after making a key play in his own end chipping the puck past the Vernal defender attempting to hold the blue line with just over a minute remaining in the second. Larocque-Wolfe picked up his second of the night, and 15th on the season, past the halfway point of the final period to put the final nail in the coffin.  

Ontario’s defensive renaissance continued Friday night, as they held an Oilers team that averages over seven goals a game to just a single score. Josh Henson once again put forth a great performance, but as always it does not take one man to plan great defense. It was truly a team effort as skaters constantly sacrificed their bodies to put themselves in front of the puck and blocked shots. 

The night’s festivities began before the puck dropped when Levi Ponce, billet brother to Chris Lai, got the boys in the Jr Reign dressing room ready to run through a brick wall with his announcement of the starting lineup and joined them on the ice for the beginning of warmups. Local IE artist Tino Relz kept the crowd entertained with his musical stylings during intermission. The highlight of the night was the celebration of our 2nd annual Halloween Spooktackular game, and what other way is there to celebrate the spookiest of all holidays than with a costume contest. The crowd had the difficult task of choosing just one first place winner, but they reached a verdict that everyone could agree on. A big thank you to our game sponsor Exodus Escape Room for helping us make this night happen. 

The Jr Reign are back in action Monday, Oct. 30 at 10:25 a.m. when they welcome back the Vernal Oilers at Ontario Center Ice Arena one final time. Catch all the high flying, hard hitting hockey action and purchase your tickets today! 

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