PREVIEW - Ontario @ Bakersfield, 11/29 - LA Kings Insider

WHO: Ontario Reign (7-7-2-1) @ Bakersfield Condors (9-7-0-0)
WHEN: Thursday, November 29, @ 10:30 AM
WHERE: Rabobank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @ontarioreign & @reigninsider

TODAY’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign are back on the road following a pair of home games for the first meeting of the season in Bakersfield against the Condors. The two teams met just six days ago in Ontario, the first game of the season between the two teams, with Bakersfield breaking a tie game early in the third period, en route to a 4-2 victory.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: After winning just one of its first eight games to begin the season, Ontario has won six of its last nine games played, to return to the .500 mark on the season. The Reign are currently in a stretch of 12 consecutive divisional matchups and, in total, are 5-6-1 against the Pacific Division thus far this season. All time, Ontario is 7-6-2-1 in Bakersfield, including a 2-2-1 mark during the 2017-18 season at Rabobank Arena. With the 10:30 a.m. start, the team naturally did not have a morning skate today prior to the game.

THE COMEBACK KIDS: In what was one of the wildest games in franchise history, Ontario came back from four goals down in the third period in its most recent game, on Sunday in Tucson, to skate to a 7-6 overtime victory over the Roadrunners. Trailing 6-2 with less than 14 minutes remaining, the Reign tallied four goals in regulation, capped off with Brett Sutter’s overtime goal for the comeback win. The Reign have trailed in six of their seven wins this season, including three comebacks of three goals or more.

SPECIAL, SPECIAL TEAMS: Ontario has been perfect on the penalty kill in six of its last seven games, including a 3-of-3 effort on Sunday against Tucson. Over that span, the Reign are 26-of-28 when down a man, good for a 93 percent success rate. The Reign also struck for three power-play goals on Sunday, tying a season high. Ontario has scored a PPG in five of its last six contests, with nine total goals in that span.

BREAKING BRAD: Reign forward Brad Morrison tallied twice in Sunday’s victory, the first multi-goal game of his professional career, his second straight game with a goal and his third consecutive with a point. Morrison has now collected seven points (3-4-7) over his last six games, with a +2 rating and 10 shots on goal over that stretch and is now the team’s active leader in points by a rookie (10), with Sheldon Rempal on recall to the NHL with the Kings.

FIRSTS, FIRSTS, FIRSTS: Ontario saw three different players reach milestone moments on Sunday, including defenseman Austin Strand, who made his AHL debut in the victory over Tucson. Strand also tallied an assist in his first game played with the Reign. Additionally, forwards Drake Rymsha and Boko Imama scored their first career professional goals in the win, with Imama’s tally sparking the third-period comeback with the first of four goals in the third period.

HONEST GABE: The Reign expect to have forward Gabe Vilardi in their lineup this morning for his first career professional game. Vilardi was assigned to Ontario on a conditioning stint earlier this week and has skated with the team each of the past two days. Vilardi was a first-round draft pick of the Kings (11th Overall) in 2017 and has scored at over a point-per-game pace in the OHL in each of the past two seasons.

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Ontario also welcomes back goaltender Peter Budaj to the roster, after he spent the past month of the season in the NHL with the Kings. Budaj, who is the Reign’s all-time leader in wins (43) has posted a 1-2-0 record with Ontario thus far this season. The 36-year-old goaltender has also appeared in three NHL games with Los Angeles, losing his only decision in his first start of the season.

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Kevin Gravel

#4 | 6′ 4″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 2/17/1996
Birthplace: KINGSFORD, MI
Position: D


Gravel made his NHL debut with Los Angeles in the 2015-16 season, skating with the Kings for four games before returning to AHL affiliate Ontario.

Rob Scuderi

#0 | 6′ 1″ | 212 lb | Age: 37

Born: DOB: 12/30/1978
Birthplace: SYOSSET, NY
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Scuderi is currently playing for the Reign while under contract with the LA Kings. He has won two Stanley Cups, once with the Pittsburgh Penguins and with the Kings.

Michael Mersch

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 225 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 10/2/1992
Birthplace: PARK RIDGE, IL
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Drafted by the Kings in 2011, Mersch is currently playing forward for the Reign. Last season, he drew into his first NHL game for the Kings, where he registered 2 shots and 3 hits.

Michael Latta

#24 | 6′ 0″ | 207 lb | Age: 25

Born: 5/25/1991
Birthplace: KITCHENER, ON
Position: F
Handedness: Right


Prior to turning professional, Latta played major junior hockey in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and Guelph Storm. He was drafted into the NHL in 2009 and joined the King’s affiliate Reign in 2016.

Adrian Kempe

#09 | 6′ 1″ | 187 lb | Age: 20

Born: 9/13/1996
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Growing up in Swedan, Kempe made his hockey debut in 2014 in the Swedish Hockey League. He has since been drafted by the Kings, where he is playing for their AHL affiliate team, the Ontario Reign.

Brett Sutter

#07 | 6′ 0″ | 192 lb | Age: 29

Born: 6/2/1987
Birthplace: CALGARY, AB
Position: C


Drafted in 2005 by the Calgary Flames, Sutter was traded to the Reign in 2016. He is the son of LA Kings head couch Darryl Sutter, and the eighth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL.