Kempe to return tonight; Kitsyn sent down

Reign forward Adrian Kempe will return to the lineup in tonight’s 6 p.m. home game against San Diego, head coach Mike Stothers confirmed via text on Saturday afternoon.

Kempe had missed the last four games due to an upper body injury suffered in a collision with teammate Derek Forbort on Feb. 19 against the Texas Stars. He suited up the following day against San Diego, but did not play. The team is looking for more from the first-rounder, who has been held without a goal in his last 17 games. The last time the rookie scored was on Jan. 8 against Stockton, his first game back from competing in the World Junior Championships in Finland for his native Sweden.

His return comes with Ontario (34-14-3-1, .692 winning percentage) looking to officially lock in a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs. With 16 games remaining, their magic number to gain a berth is 16 points.

Stothers said forward Paul Bissonnette, still nursing a “mid-range” ailment, will continue to be sidelined.

As a result of Kempe’s addition, the Reign sent forward Maxim Kitsyn back to the Manchester Monarchs.

Kitsyn appeared in two games against Texas during his recall and was held without a point. He had been a healthy scratch the previous two games against San Antonio.

Kitsyn, 24, was called up to the Reign on Feb. 24, along with Matt Leitner, who remains with Ontario.

Goalie Michael Houser is still in Manchester on a conditioning assignment.

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