Good Morning, Insiders!
The Reign were on the ice this morning for their only skate of the week at Toyota Sports Center, a 9 AM start on the NHL ice. Today’s practice appeared to be a pretty spirited skate from where I was standing – Lots of intensity, some yelling at times and a noticeably ramped up intensity during the drills.
Here’s how Ontario lined up this morning –
Moulson – Amadio – Scherbak
Sutter – Maillet – Rempal
Herr – Mitchell – Morrison
Eyssimont – Bauman – Devane
Imama – Kurker
Clague – MacDermid
Reddekopp – Roy
Lintuniemi – Brickley
Petersen / Budaj
Ontario is away for three games this week, beginning in San Jose tomorrow evening with a 7 PM start at SAP Center. The Reign will then practice in San Jose on Thursday, before a weekend back-to-back, beginning against the Barracuda on Friday, before a Saturday tilt against the Stockton Heat concludes the three-in-four set. San Jose is the top team in the Western Conference with a .710 winning percentage and Ontario is 1-2-0 this season in Stockton, with the one victory being a three-goal comeback to earn a 6-5 OTW on Opening Weekend. A tough test this week for a Reign squad looking to get back on track.
Scherbak and Scoring
Nikita Scherbak took part in his first Ontario practice this morning, skating alongside forwards Matt Moulson and Mike Amadio. Amadio and Moulson have shown chemistry, dating back to last season, with Matt Luff being the past third member of that unit. With Luff in LA with the Kings, forward Brad Morrison was slotted on the right side of that line this past weekend and now Scherbak will get a go. Scherbak has shown the ability to be a high-scoring AHL player (30 points from 26 AHL games with Laval last season) and joins a Reign group that could use an influx of offense. Read more on Scherbak’s month-plus in the LAK organization from Jon HERE.
It’s no secret that the Reign need to find ways to score more goals, something that has not been an issue for most of the season. Ontario has scored just one 5-on-5 goal in its last three games and six goals in total over its last five games. After Sunday’s loss against San Diego, Head Coach Mike Stothers had a great quote about what the team needs to look for offensively, and it isn’t a SportsCenter (or Centre) Top-10 play.
“Well, there’s some guys that score more naturally than others and some teams have a lot of them and some don’t. So, if you don’t have a lot of natural goalscorers, you’ve got to create goals and get some ugly goals and we’re not giving ourselves a chance by even getting the ugly ones. We’re not ready for a rebound or a pass, we take too long to get the shot off, we miss the net, we skate by the net. There’s some guys that just have a gift, they can just throw the puck at the net and it finds a way to go in. We don’t have guys like that. So, you’ve got to stop thinking and visualizing that you’re going to score the pretty goal that’s going to get you on the TSN highlights of the week, because it’s not going to happen. Just get an ugly, gritty goal. Just get a point shot through to the net, have some traffic in front and you score on a rebound on your power play like Amadio did. Is that going to make TSN’s Turning Point this week? Is that going to make ESPN’s highlights? No, but it’s effective.”
Upcoming Reign Events
The Reign are on the road for the next 5 games and will host an event before they next host a game. The Ontario Reign Gala is coming up on Sunday, January 20. The three-hour event begins at 6:30 PM and features a cocktail hour, plus dinner with Ontario Reign players and coaches. Throughout the evening, the Reign will auction off the players’ 2018-19 warmup jerseys, worn during home-game warmups throughout the first-half of the season.
Tickets for the Gala are $50, including dinner – Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Also on the horizon, just announced today, is the second edition of the Pins & Pucks event. Pins & Pucks is a bowling event, allowing fans to bowl with Reign players and coaches at Big AL’s in Ontario. The evening includes two hours of bowling and dinner and more information can be found HERE.
Lastly, I leave you with the Reign’s version of the #BirdBoxChallenge – A big thanks to the guys for having some fun with it and making this a pretty cool video.