Ontario Reign announce first round playoff dates for best-of-3 series with San Diego Gulls

Insiders, the Ontario Reign have qualified for this year’s Calder Cup Playoffs and have clinched the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division!

With one game remaining in the regular season, which will be played on Saturday in Henderson against the Silver Knights, the Reign are locked into a first-round, best-of-3 matchup against the San Diego Gulls. The team officially announced dates and times for that series on Monday, with things kicking off Wednesday, May 4 at Toyota Arena.

From today’s Reign press release:

Game 1 – San Diego at Ontario – Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. (Round 1 – Game A)
Game 2 – San Diego at Ontario – Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. (Round 1 – Game B)
Game 3* – San Diego at Ontario – Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m. (Round 1 – Game C)
*if necessary

Fans can secure their tickets to the postseason now by purchasing a 10-ticket Flex Plan, which allows the purchaser to choose the dates they can attend. Single game tickets for Games 1 and 2 are also on sale now through axs.com and ontarioreign.com.

The privilege of having all three games in front of their home fans at Toyota Arena was earned along with the second seed and it should be a nice advantage for Ontario, which finished with a home record of 23-5-4-2 in 34 games (0.765 winning percentage).

The Reign also blanked the Gulls in the six games they played in Ontario, winning all six by a combined score of 26-12 and finishing with a +42 goal differential (180 for, 138 against) in home games overall. Things went very differently in the other six games in San Diego at Pechanga Arena, with the teams splitting the six contests (3-3), but the Reign won’t have to travel for any games in the opening series.

All-time, the Reign and Gulls have previously met in the postseason twice. The first occurrence came in the 2016 Pacific Division Finals which saw Ontario prevail in five games. The following year San Diego got revenge, defeating the Reign in a five-game Division Semifinals series in 2017.

Once the matchup against the Gulls was finalized Saturday night, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who played in nine of the 12 regular season clashes against San Diego and scored six points with three goals and three assists, gave his thoughts on the upcoming series.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Anderson-Dolan. “They’re a good team, it’s going to be a good series and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Ontario has over a week to prepare for the series, with just one game remaining on their regular-season schedule against Henderson this coming Saturday. Anderson-Dolan also mentioned that being well-rested will make a difference when the postseason begins.

“It’ll be huge, obviously we’ve had a lot of hockey lately and going into this last game against Henderson we want to have our game where we want it to be going into playoffs,” he said. “We’ll rest up this week, get some good practices in, take care of business in Henderson and then be ready for playoffs.”

This year the AHL has gone to an expanded playoff format, which means that for the Reign it will take five rounds and 16 total wins to claim the Calder Cup. The opening round in the Pacific Division consists of three best-of-3 series, with the winners advancing to the Division Semifinals along with the first-place Stockton Heat, who have earned a bye as a result of posting the best regular-season record in the division.

Stockton will automatically face the lowest advancing seed, which at this point can still be any playoff team other than Ontario. The Division Semifinals, as well as the Division Finals, will both be a best-of-5 series. The final two rounds of the postseason, the Conference Finals and Calder Cup Finals, will both be played in a best-of-7 format.

While the Reign, Gulls, Heat and Silver Knights have all locked up their postseason seeds, the other three qualifying teams, Abbotsford, Colorado and Bakersfield, have a lot to play for in the final week of the AHL’s regular season. All three can finish anywhere from third through fifth in the division and they each have a different number of games remaining. The remaining details for those three teams, who would consist of Ontario’s second-round opponent should the Reign advance, are available here.

The postseason is officially only nine days away for the Reign, and if the team’s regular-season success is any indication, they’ve got as good a shot as any team of playing deep into the spring. The high-scoring ability of players like TJ Tynan, Martin Frk, Anderson-Dolan and Samuel Fagemo, who all reached the 40-point mark this season, defensive experience of veterans like Cameron Gaunce and Thomas Hickey and goaltender Matt Villalta, who has 28 wins in 45 games played, has the team in position to contend against the best the AHL has to offer.

Rules for Blog Commenting

  • No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other comments, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • Please do not discuss, or post links to websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.

Repeated violations of the blog rules will result in site bans, commensurate with the nature and number of offenses.

Please flag any comments that violate the site rules for moderation. For immediate problems regarding problematic posts, please email zdooley@lakings.com.