Happy Thursday, Insiders!
The Reign departed from LAX earlier this afternoon for Stockton, with their second of three games on the week set for tomorrow evening. Following Ontario’s three-goal third period, in a 4-2 comeback win yesterday over Bakersfield, the Reign will visit the Heat tomorrow at 7 PM, before they conclude the week on Sunday afternoon, with a 3 PM matinee against Colorado on home ice. The Stanley Cup will be in attendance in Ontario for Sunday’s game, a pretty cool treat for a rare Sunday home date, and the Kings are off. A good one to attend!
Reign In The Rain
Coming soon on LA Kings dot com will be a look back at the most recent outdoor game in the LA Kings organization. The Reign traveled to Bakersfield for an outdoor spectacle, that featured more rain than Reign. Ontario dropped a tight, 3-2 overtime affair against the Condors, but it was the weather that stole the show.
Midway through the first period, a downpour of rain overwhelmed the playing surface, causing the first period to end early and be tacked on at the beginning of the second. Ontario actually scored twice during the worst of it, before Bakersfield battled back to force OT, and eventually claim the victory.
One of my favorite excerpts from Stutts when we talked about the game the other day –
It just came down. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The water that was on top of the ice was incredible. The highlight for me was when one of the refs bit it, had a toe pick, and he slid and it was like a kid on the waterslide, it was just hilarious and he was soaked for the rest of the night. We got really wet, and it was night time, it was cooler, it was kind of miserable and I really think it affected the play, because there was so much rain and so much water. It was one of those ones where we stopped a couple of times, to see if the rain would let up, and as a whole, it didn’t turn out to be a great hockey game, but I still think the day was probably a success from an American Hockey League standpoint.
Reigny Day Podcast, ft. Matt Luff
Episode 7 of the Reigny Day Podcast is here! Matt Luff joined Cam and I on the air, for one of the most fun ones we’ve done yet.
Who is the cleanest roommate in the Luff – Cal Petersen – Sean Walker household? How does Luffer handle his NHL video game rating? What was his process like, going from a twice-undrafted free agent to signing an NHL contract to playing NHL games by his second professional season?
All answered within…..and if DoorDash is listening, DM me on Twitter to ask about how you can get more of those kinds of ads with an Ontario Reign corporate partnership. Maybe the presenting sponsor of the totally not dirty game, #FluffOrStuff?
20 Games Remaining
Last night’s Ontario Reign victory was huge. It felt like a must-win, considering the circumstances. After San Diego won on Sunday, the gap between the two teams for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division was just one point, with the Gulls idle midweek. Regardless of the outcome, San Diego would enter the weekend with four games in hand, and with Ontario staring down a 2-1 deficit after a lifeless opening 40 minutes, the prospect of it being four games in hand with just one point separating the teams was a possibility.
Enter in Mike Stothers’ in-game adjustments, and the Reign scored three times in the third period to earn a 4-2 victory, and put an additional two points between themselves and the Gulls. Both teams play twice this weekend, with San Diego visiting 2020’s hottest team in the Iowa Wild, and Ontario skating in the aforementioned games against Stockton and Colorado.
The Reign are 24-19-4-1 with 20 games remaining in the regular season. 13 of the final 19 games will be played on home ice, including seven of 10 to close the season. The Reign have been just average at home this season at 8-8-4-1, and have yet to string together victories in consecutive home games to date. Ontario will host Colorado, the team it is chasing in the standings, three times (five meetings overall) and San Diego, the team closely in the rear-view mirror, twice (three games overall).
While this is a focus with a longer lens, the Reign have to take things one game at a time. Since Cal Petersen’s recall last week, Matthew Villalta and the Reign are 2-1-0. It would be naive to suggest that the group that lined up yesterday for the Reign will remain in tact for the rest of the season at the AHL level. As has been the case all season, others will need to step up as players get their NHL opportunities, and it will be exciting to watch, as the spotlight continues to shine brighter, who will step into it.