Breaking down the 2022-23 Ontario Reign schedule!

The AHL released the full schedule for the 2022-23 season on Thursday and the Ontario Reign can officially begin planning out the upcoming campaign. Things look a bit different this year with an expanded 72-game slate and two changes in Pacific Division membership.

With a detailed breakdown to follow below, here’s a look at the full 2022-23 Ontario Reign regular-season schedule –

First thing’s first, the Reign will host the Abbotsford Canucks to begin the season on Opening Night – October 14 at Toyota Arena. The Canucks proved to be a difficult opponent for Ontario in their inaugural season last year, with the Reign holding a 3-3-0-2 record from eight contests, including four games that extended into overtime. After seeing Abbotsford for the opener, the Reign won’t face Vancouver’s AHL team again until March 1, which will kick off a stretch of seven contests between the two teams in Ontario’s last 20 games and will include two trips north of the border for weekend series’ March 17-18 and April 7-8.

The Reign have an extremely even breakdown this year, facing each of their nine Pacific Division opponents a total of eight times, four at home and four on the road. While it works out evenly on paper, it does mean a bit more travel for the club compared to what they had during 2021-22. With the Calgary Flames moving its AHL team from Stockton to the same city as the NHL club, that means Ontario will have to go north of the border for two more trips than they did a year ago when they visited Abbotsford twice.

In addition, the Reign have two trips to Colorado to face the Eagles this season, compared to just one during the previous campaign. The first rematch between Ontario and the Eagles, who eliminated the Reign from the Calder Cup Playoffs in May, will take place in Loveland, Colo. during a two-game series on Nov. 3 and 5. Colorado will play at Toyota Arena on Dec. 2, Jan. 31, Mar. 29 and Apr. 2.

When it comes to a more local rival in San Diego, the Reign will be the visitor for the Gulls’ home opener on Oct. 21 at Pechanga Arena which begins a home-and-home weekend that ends the following evening on Oct. 22 at Toyota Arena. Last season Ontario had its way with the Gulls, winning nine of the 12 meetings that included a perfect 6-0 record in the Inland Empire. Reign fans who may want to travel and see the team on the road in SD this season shouldn’t have to take time off work to do so, as all four matchups will occur on weekends with two on Friday and two on Saturday. After Oct. 22, Ontario’s home contests against the Gulls will take place on Nov. 13, Jan. 14 and Feb. 26.

The newest AHL franchise, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, won’t have any games in their new desert home until mid-December, opening their inaugural season with a large portion of road games along with four contests in Seattle, the home city of their NHL affiliate. When the new building in Palm Desert branded as Acrisure Arena opens, Ontario will be the third opponent to get a look inside the new facility when they visit for the first time on Dec. 28. Reign fans will get their first taste of the Firebirds in Ontario the following month on Jan. 21. Coachella Valley will also play games at Toyota Arena on Feb. 17, Feb. 22 and Mar. 31.

Other highlights on the Reign’s home schedule include a pre-Thanksgiving showdown against the San Jose Barracuda on November 23, a New Year’s Eve tilt against Calgary on December 31 and the regular season home finale against the Henderson Silver Knights on April 14.

Days Breakdown
– As has been the case in previous seasons, a majority of this year’s games will be played on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday, with a total of 48 contests and 66% of the schedule taking place on one of those three days. Another popular gameday for the Reign this season will be Wednesdays, as the team will host six contests on humpday and travel for nine others, making it the team’s third-most played-on day of the week.
– The most frequent day of the week on the overall schedule is Saturday, with 19 total games, including eight at Toyota Arena. Ontario will also play 18 games on Friday, including 10 at home. The most frequent weekday for the team to be on the road is Wednesday when they will play nine contests away from the Inland Empire.
– The Reign believe in Sundays. Tied for the most frequent home day of the week, Ontario will host a game on Sunday 10 times during 2022-23. But only one other time will the team play on Sunday for the rest of the season, with the lone occurrence coming on a short trip to Coachella Valley on Jan. 8. The Firebirds will also host the Reign for the team’s lone Monday game on the schedule which will take place on Feb. 20 which falls on Presidents’ Day.

Month Breakdown
– Overall, Ontario’s schedule is a pretty well-balanced split between home and away games by month. In each of the first four months of the campaign, the team plays exactly five home contests. After opening the year with four of their first five at home in October, the Reign will spend more time on the road after the calendar flips to 2023 with eight contests away from Ontario in January including flights to Colorado and Calgary on consecutive weeks.
– February should be the easiest month on the team as far as travel goes, with only one contest located in a city that requires a flight, a single game in San Jose during the middle of the week on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Reign will quickly return home to host Coachella Valley two days later before a day trip to San Diego to close out that week. All other road trips would most likely be made by bus in the month, with travel to Bakersfield and Henderson on the second weekend of February and a ride to face the Firebirds on Presidents’ Day that will cap off the team’s five road contests.
– The stretch run tends to be the busiest for teams in the AHL, and that will continue to be the case for the Reign this season with 14 total games in March, their busiest month. Luckily for Ontario, more than half of those games will be at home, including the last four which will all happen in an eight-day span. The middle of the month will take the team out of town with two-game sets in Abbotsford and Tucson on back-to-back weeks. The eight total home games in March are also the most of any month during the regular season.

Odds & Ends
– The Reign won’t have any extended time away from Toyota Arena this season, with the longest break between games in Ontario during the 2022-23 campaign being 14 days from late October until mid-November (Oct. 30 – Nov. 12), which will come immediately after a stretch of five games in just over two weeks to open the year.
– Ontario will play a total of 19 back-to-back sets this season, with nine of them coming entirely away from home. Most of those are road weekends in Abbotsford, Calgary, Colorado or Tucson. For that reason, it’s a little surprising to see the team only host two back-to-backs at home in Ontario, but that may become rarer than normal now that Coachella Valley has become the third team in Southern California and visitors can easily travel between the IE and the desert when in the area.
– New Year’s Eve has become an annual tradition for Ontario and that will continue again with a Dec. 31 matchup against Calgary at Toyota Arena. But games on holidays will be few and far between for the Reign, with only two other games on holidays that both come on the road with the Presidents’ Day matchup in Coachella Valley and a St. Patrick’s Day tilt in Abbotsford.
– The AHL All-Star Classic will be hosted by the Laval Rocket this season, taking place February 5-6 at Place Bell in Quebec. The Reign finish their pre-break schedule the night before with a home game in Ontario against Tucson, which may make for some tough travel for whoever is selected to participate. The 2023 All-Star event will include the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Feb. 5, and the AHL All-Star Challenge on the following evening, Monday, Feb. 6.

With the schedule announcement behind us, we can now say there are officially only 85 days until the season kicks off with Opening Night on October 14! Between now and then we’ll continue to get you prepared for the season here on LAKI and you can once again expect full coverage here throughout the campaign once it opens. Hope you’re all enjoying summer and starting to get that hockey itch again!

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