REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario at Bakersfield 12/4

WHO: Ontario Reign (11-4-0-1) vs. Bakersfield Condors (6-6-1-1)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME #17
WHEN: Saturday, December 4 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Mechanics Bank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @ontarioreign

 

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign travel to Bakersfield for the third meeting of the 2021-22 season with the Condors. Ontario has won both of its previous matchups against Bakersfield this year, with a 3-2 decision at Toyota Arena on Oct. 22 and a 6-3 victory at Mechanics Bank Arena on Nov. 6.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign are looking to get back on track after dropping a pair of one-goal games in Abbotsford earlier this week by scores of 3-2 and 5-4. Ontario is expected to have reinforcements join the lineup with two additional returning skaters assigned by the LA Kings in defenseman Christian Wolanin and forward Akil Thomas. Ontario currently sits in second place in the Pacific Division standings, while the Condors are in sixth with 14 points and a percentage of 0.500.

LAST TIME OUT: A hat trick from Sheldon Dries was just enough to give the Abbotsford Canucks a 5-4 victory over the Ontario Reign, who were unable to hang on to leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the sixth meeting of the season between the two teams on Wednesday night at the Abbotsford Centre. Ontario had four forwards find the back of the net in defeat, highlighted by Martin Frk and Gabriel Vilardi, who each posted a goal and an assist. Goaltender Garret Sparks got the start and was busy all night in the crease for the Reign, turning aside 35 of the 40 shots that came his way.

FRK COLLECTS ANOTHER ACCOLADE: Reign forward Martin Frk was named the AHL’s Player of the Month for November on Wednesday, before recording yet another multi-point effort later that night in Abbotsford. Frk totaled five goals and nine assists for 14 points in Ontario’s eight November games. The 28-year-old’s offensive output all came within the first five games of the month, posting back-to-back four-point games followed by a run of three consecutive two-point efforts. This season, Frk has scored a team-leading 10 goals which ranks third in the AHL, while his point total (22) is also tied for third in the league.

VILARDI FINDING HIS GROOVE: Reign forward Gabriel Vilardi led all skaters with five shots on goal in Tuesday’s contest in Abbotsford while posting his first two AHL assists of the 2021-22 season. The Kingston, Ont. native followed that up with a goal and an assist the next night against the Canucks on Wednesday and has five points in his first four AHL outings. The 22-year-old hadn’t seen AHL action since the 2019-20 campaign when he posted 25 points in 32 games on nine goals and 16 assists. Vilardi began his season in LA with the Kings and scored one goal in seven outings.

SCOUTING THE CONDORS: Bakersfield began 2021-22 with wins in four of their first six outings but went cold with a four-game winless streak last month. Most recently, the Condors fell to San Diego 2-1 at home last Saturday. Led offensively by returning forwards Seth Griffith, Cooper Marody, Brad Malone and Adam Cracknell, Bakersfield has a veteran group. Griffith is first on the club with 17 points (5g, 12a), while Marody and Malone have each scored six times which is tied for the team lead. In addition, Cracknell has posted 13 points on four goals and nine assists. Goaltender Stuart Skinner won his first two starts before he was recalled by Edmonton and ever since, the team has used a tandem of Olivier Rodrigue and Ilya Konovalov, who have combined to make 13 appearances.

WOLANIN RETURNS: Defender Christian Wolanin, who was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres earlier this season, has returned to the organization and was assigned to Ontario on Friday. Wolanin appeared in two games for the Reign in 2020-21, earning three assists, and saw action in three contests with the LA Kings after coming over in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. The Quebec native is expected to make his AHL season debut with the Reign on Saturday.

REAL DEAL AKIL: LA Kings prospect Akil Thomas was activated from the injured/non-roster list Friday and is expected to join the Ontario Reign lineup Saturday night in Bakersfield. It will be the first game action in over six months for the former second-round pick after completing an exciting rookie season where Thomas finished second on the club with 26 points while playing in all 40 of the Reign’s games. The Toronto native was one of only three forwards to reach double figures in goals with 11, joining other Kings prospects Arthur Kaliyev and Samuel Fagemo. Thomas’ best offensive play came in the final days of the season, finishing the campaign by scoring points in the team’s final eight games, including a first-period goal in their only playoff contest.

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