The Ontario Reign finished off an impressive series victory over the San Diego Gulls with a 2-1 win in Game 5 at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday night.
After taking the Pacific Division Finals four games to one, the Reign advance to the Western Conference Finals where they will face either Lake Erie or Grand Rapids beginning next Saturday.
Three of the Reign’s victories in the series were by a single goal; the fourth was by two goals including an empty-netter.
Ontario allowed only two San Diego shots on goal in the opening period of Game 5, but the game remained scoreless until Matt Hackett went behind his net to play the puck and shot it right into Joel Lowry, who tapped it into the open net to give the Reign a 1-0 lead 2:33 into the second.
San Diego tied it at 1-1 six minutes later as Chris Wagner scored from the slot off a pass from Nick Ritchie, but the Reign needed only 25 seconds to regain the lead as Justin Auger carried the puck in on a two-on-one rush and fired a shot past Hackett to make it 2-1 at 8:56.
Ontario limited the Gulls to six shots in the third period and 16 shots in the game, two coming during a six-on-four flurry in the final seconds that was thwarted by Peter Budaj.
Budaj (7-2) needed just 15 saves to pick up the win, as the game marked the fifth time this postseason he faced fewer than 20 shots in a contest.
Hackett (2-4) stopped 24 of 26 shots in defeat, winding up with a .927 save percentage in the series.
The Gulls were 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 5, finishing 2-for-20 in the series. The Reign were 0-for-3 (2-for-16).
Pacific Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
P1-Ontario Reign vs. P2-San Diego Gulls
Game 1 – Thu., May 5 – ONTARIO 5, San Diego 3
Game 2 – Sat., May 7 – Ontario 2, SAN DIEGO 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Sun., May 8 – San Diego 3, ONTARIO 0
Game 4 – Fri., May 13 – Ontario 4, SAN DIEGO 3 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 14 – ONTARIO 2, San Diego 1
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 15, 2016