WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME
WHEN: Monday, December 31, @ 7:00 PM
WHERE: Citizens Business Bank Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO – Mixlr – TWITTER: @ontarioreign & @jessimac17
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Tonight the Ontario Reign will face the Bakersfield Condors for the third time so far this season, after splitting their first two contests, a 4-2 loss on November 23rd and a 3-2 win on November 29th.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This will be the third game in four days for Ontario after losing both games in a back-to-back set against San Antonio and Texas. The Reign have earned two points in their last five games, with their most recent win coming from a 7-6 shootout victory against the San Diego Gulls on December 22nd. Bakersfield is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to San Diego and currently sits 4th in the Pacific Division with a total of 31 points after having gone 5-3-1-1 in their last ten games.
SEE YA’ SOUP: This morning the Kings announced a series of roster moves with Jack Campbell being called up to the Los Angeles Kings after a brief two-game conditioning stint with the Reign. This will be Campbell’s first appearance in the Kings’ lineup since November 10th when he sustained knee injury (torn meniscus), which subsequently required surgery, in a game at Staples Center against the Calgary Flames.
CAL-IFORNIA DREAMING: With Campbell up, Cal Petersen was reassigned to Ontario where he took part in this morning’s practice with the team. He was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start tonight against the Condors, his first appearance against the club this season. In his ten games with the Reign so far, Petersen has a 4.29 goals-against-average and a .881 save percentage.
MAD-SQUAD: Yesterday morning, the Kings assigned forward Michael Amadio to Ontario. Amadio has played three games with the Reign this year, in which he has tallied three assists (0-3=3), and spent a total of two minutes in the penalty box. In the Kings’ most recent game, a 4-1 loss to Vegas, Amadio saw 7:35 of ice time. He has played 28 games with the big club overall and has two goals and two assists (2-2=4) with the Kings this season.
LONE-SCORING SUTTER: In the Reign’s most recent game, a 5-1 loss to San Antonio on Saturday, Brett Sutter netted the Reign’s lone goal off the rebound on Sheldon Rempal’s original shot. The goal marked Sutter’s seventh goal and Rempal’s 16th assist of the season. Sutter has earned points in three of the team’s last four contests and goes into tonight’s matchup ranked fourth on the team in both goals and points (7-15=22).
THOUGHTS FROM STOTTS:
Mike Stothers, on how closely he follows players like Sean Walker when they move up and are playing more consistently at the NHL level:
Absolutely. For myself. I mean, we coached these guys. We’re happy and proud that they’re up there, so of course we’re following along, texting and stuff like that. And then they get sent down and it’s like, ‘Okay, well maybe we’re not quite finished developing here. Let’s, you know, work on whatever it is.’ And, you know, we’ve been in contact with the head coaches here, whether it was Darryl or John or Willie when players get sent down we want to know, okay, what did they say? What did they like and what did they feel you still need to improve upon? And then we just go off of that. They still think you need to be going back harder for pucks? Then let’s work on your retrievals. Your first pass needs to be better? Then let’s work on that. So it’s just one of those things where, as an organization, we try to stay on top of everything and everybody’s in tune as to what direction we want to go to help mold these players and, you know, it’s been pretty successful so far.
Stothers, on Cal Petersen’s numbers not necessarily reflecting his performance this season:
You can make numbers work for any way you want. Isn’t that what agents and lawyers and arbitrators do? They make numbers work whatever way they want. You can make a story or a case either way. We try not to get caught up in the numbers. You know what I mean? It’s a team game so everything’s measured on wins and losses. Now, you look at Cals numbers when he started the year with us, they probably weren’t Cal-like. But it wasn’t really reflective of the way he played, as you saw when he came up here (to LA) his numbers were pretty darn good. We try to dwell on the positive side of numbers. We try to make the numbers work for us. And as an older coach, I’m not big on numbers anyway. You know, don’t put much stock into them. It’s when you know what the kids are doing and you see where they started and where they are, month-to-month the growth and what you’re hoping that they’re learning and applying, right? So it’s not so much numbers. You want to see that growth … And, you know, when you bring a guy in and you’re talking to him and you go over things in practice you say, ‘Hey, he got it. That play that happened over there on that back team? He got it. He’s grasping what we’re talking about.’ That, to me, is more important than goals, asists, points, plus/minus, whatever. Like I said, you can make those numbers work for anything. And you can actually get fooled by it too. So it’s more of being in touch with your team and those players and, like I said, watching their growth.
Stothers, on managing the emotional aspect of the game, especially when the team has not been winning as often as they’d like:
Well, I mean, it is an emotional game and we’ve had some games where it’s been pretty exciting to watch, 7-6 whatever overtime or shootout. Ideally those aren’t the games you want to be involved in, but if you come out on the right side of it, it feels pretty damn good. And again, you look at it and our job as coaches is to not get caught up on the emotion of wins and losses or a winning streak or a losing streak. You’ve got to keep an even keel and if we do as coaches, then hopefully it rubs off on the players. You just approach it as every day is a new day and I guess for us it’s a little bit different. Yeah, we all want to win. I mean that’s the nature of the business, that’s why you’re a competitor, but our job is more about the players development and their growth and hoping that they can help the Kings. If not the Kings organization, maybe they’re an asset they can be moved and acquire something that helps the Kings, right? So we try not to get caught up in that either. Not going to lie to you, it stings a little bit when you haven’t won. The environment is always more fun when you win, but that’s the challenge too as a coach — keep the fun in the game even when you’re not winning — and then remind them that even when you’re winning, you’re not that […] good yet.
Stothers, on what he has seen in Kale Clague’s development:
I think we’re seeing more of what we expected out of Kale. I think he’s utilizing his best asset, which is his skating. Earlier on in the year we tried to have him emulate Seal Walker and the fact that, you know, Walks really jumps into the play well. He shows different speeds on the ice. He doesn’t always go five hundred miles an hour, but when he needs to jump into a hole or jump into a play he’s got that acceleration. When he does join the attack and there’s a puck going back the other way, he’s real good at accelerating and getting back, and one the situations we think Kale has made some real good strides there. Kale’s also had to learn how to defend especially low, below the goal line, behind the net, and around the boards — much the same as Walks did. They’re not big, they’re not huge, huge guys, so it’s more about stick and containing with your body and because they’re such good skaters and are so mobile, they’re able to do so. But, you know, Walks went through a lot of that and that was part of his growth and we’ve seen that with Kale. But as you mentioned earlier, if you were to measure somebody by maybe stats, goals, assists, we’re more excited by where he was at training camp in September and we’ve seen what he’s now doing. So that, to us, is way more important than goals assists and plus/minus. He’s coming around. He’s really buying in and to his credit he’s really trying to apply what everybody’s asking him to do, so good on Kale.