The Ontario Reign were back in action at Toyota Sports Center for the second straight day. The team will practice again tomorrow before a Calder Cup Playoffs rematch against the Texas Stars on Thursday in Ontario, followed by a So-Cal Series matchup against San Diego on Saturday.
The Reign had the same line combinations for the second straight day – CLICK HERE to check those out. Over the weekend, the Reign added two players to their roster in advance of Thursday’s game against Texas, one familiar face – forward Mike Amadio – and one newcomer in goaltender Evan Buitenhuis.
Amadio has played with Ontario in each of the past three seasons. After he made his debut during the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, the 6-2 center was a mainstay with the Reign during the 2016-17 season and split the most recent campaign, 2017-18, between Los Angeles and Ontario. While working towards a recall to the NHL, Amadio plans to be a part of the Reign lineup and do what he can for the team.
“I just want to come down here and do what I can to help the team win,” he said. “Play my game and keep things simple.”
What could make things easier for the third-year forward is that he is accustomed to how things go in Ontario, having played for Mike Stothers in each of the past three seasons, as well as many of his current Reign teamamtes.
“It’s obviously a familiar system and there are familiar guys in the room, plus the coaching staff. It’ll be fun.”
Amadio began the week on a line with Matt Moulson and Matt Luff, two fellow high-scoring players. Moulson and Amadio were a dynamic duo last season and Luff is a natural fit as the third member of that line. After Moulson joined the Reign for their game on December 9 of last season, Amadio went on a tear, with 28 points (9-19-28) over a 17-game stretch, on route to being named the AHL’s Player of the Month during December. Two games after his streak ended, Amadio was recalled to the Kings and didn’t return to the AHL until the postseason.
“[Matt Moulson]’s a lot of fun to play with, we make a lot of plays, and Luffer’s a good shooter, so we just try to dish him the puck and fortunately it worked for us last year,” Amadio said.
Luff echoed those sentiments –
“It’s been good – I think we all read off of each other really well,” the second-year forward noted. “It’s just going to be good to have [Amadio] back in the lineup, it’s a fresh face and a guy that’s very defensive and good with his stick so I think he’ll help us out a lot.
Overall, Amadio’s time in Ontario should be an opportunity to see a lot of ice time in most situations, something that wasn’t always the case with the Kings.
“I think that’s where I excel, you know playing a little bit more and getting some touches. Hopefully that can get my game back.”
The other Ontario newcomer is goaltender Evan Buitenhuis – profiled HERE yesterday.
I started Evan off with a hard-hitting question, which many of you also asked yesterday on Twitter – How is his last name pronounced?
And away we go!
Evan Buitenhuis on his pro debut earlier this season with Worcester
It was pretty cool. The first game I got into was a little bit of a blowout, they just kind of threw me in and the team settled down and everyone helped out, so it made it an easier transition than just getting thrown in to start right away. Right after that, getting the start later on, I was excited obviously and just tried to keep the nerves in check. Team played well, I played well and we got the job done.
On his experience with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies at the end of last season
It was just the pro mentality, it was a lot different coming out of college. Seeing what they do every day, getting the kind of experience and the feel of what they do. Being able to practice that all summer was a big deal for me. Coming in here now, I kind of feel like I’m part of it and ready to go rather than last spring, I kind of felt like an outsider and just wasn’t sure what I was doing.
On the biggest difference between college hockey, especially at the Division 3 level, and pro hockey
The speed is crazy different, especially from D3 to the ECHL. The shots, there’s just more guys that have a consistent, harder shot, any given shot could be a really good chance, so it’s just a bit of a difference from D3, where there’s a few guys on each team that can play and the rest of the guys are more role players. It was a big change in terms of the quality of the play.
On what he’s trying to accomplish with the Reign to establish himself as an AHL goaltender
I’m just trying to get my name out there. Obviously it was an interesting situation that gave me an opportunity here, so I’m just trying to get my name out and showcase myself and show people what I can do and show them that I can play at this level. Just want to keep pushing and keep working hard so that everyone has a good impression of me.