IRVINE, CA. – Eagles defenseman Justin Barron scored the game-winning goal 9:00 into overtime to round out a three-point performance and propel Colorado to a 5-4 victory over the Ontario Reign on Tuesday. The win now advances the Eagles to a match-up with the San Jose Barracuda in the final round of the Pacific Division play-in tournament on Wednesday. Defenseman Keaton Middleton collected two goals and an assist in the victory, while forward T.J. Tynan notched a goal and an assist.
Colorado would waste little time in establishing an early lead, as Middleton sliced through the slot before deflecting a centering pass into the back of the net to put the Eagles on top, 1-0 just 1:38 into the contest.
The lead would be short-lived, as Ontario forward Akil Thomas would snap a wrister from the left-wing circle that would beat Eagles goaltender Adam Werner and tie the game at 1-1 at the 3:22 mark of the first period.
A power play for the Reign just minutes later would set up forward Lias Anderson to settle a rebound and snap the puck home from the side of the crease, giving Ontario a 2-1 edge with 12:02 left to play in the opening 20 minutes of action.
Later in the first period, Reign forward Boko Imama would receive a match penalty for roughing after punching Colorado defenseman Kyle Burroughs. The penalty would give the Eagles a five-minute major power play, but the man-advantage would come up dry and Colorado would head to the first intermission still trailing, 2-1.
Colorado would kick off the second period by killing off successive power plays for Ontario, which included nearly 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 man-advantage. The hard work would pay off, as later in the frame Middleton would fire a shot from the blue line that would deflect off Tynan and past Ontario goaltender Matthew Villalta. The tally would tie the game at 2-2 with 5:24 remaining in the period.
The Eagles would earn a power play in the final three minutes of the second stanza, and they would capitalize, as forward Riley Woods lit the lamp with a wrister from the left-wing circle to the give Colorado a 3-2 advantage at the 18:57 mark.
Still leading 3-2 to begin the third period, the Eagles would see their lead quickly disappear when a turnover on the power play sent Reign forward Mikey Eyssimont sprinting down the ice on a breakaway before beating Werner with a shot from the low slot to tie the game at 3-3 just 3:16 into the final frame.
After capitalizing on a shorthanded tally, Ontario would then make good on the power play when forward Martin Frk sliced down the left-wing board before cutting to the top of the crease and flicking the puck into the back of the net. The tally would allow the Reign to regain the lead, 4-3 at the 5:05 mark of the third period.
Needing an answer, Colorado would generate one via an Ontario power play, as Ryan Wagner charged down the right-wing boards before centering a pass to Middleton who would blister a shot past Villalta to square the game at 4-4 with 8:47 left to play in the final 20 minutes.
Still deadlocked at 4-4 after 60 minutes, the game would shift to a sudden-death overtime. After each team earned multiple chances on net, Barron would burst out of his own zone to lead a 2-on-1 rush down the ice, which he would punctuate with a shot from the right-wing circle that would light the lamp and give the Eagles the 5-4 victory.
Colorado was outshot in the contest 31-29, as the Eagles finished 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Colorado will return to action when the Eagles take on the San Jose Barracuda in the final round of the Pacific Division Play-In Tournament on Wednesday, May 19th at 8:00pm MT. Fans can catch every game this season live on “The Home of the Colorado Eagles,” 92.9 The Bear or on AHLTV.