REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario vs. Henderson, 11/20

WHO: Ontario Reign (7-5-1) vs. Henderson Silver Knights (5-11-0)
WHEN: Sunday, November 20 @ 3:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign


TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign and Henderson Silver Knights face-off for the second straight day to close out their weekend home-and-home series Sunday afternoon at Toyota Arena. The Reign claimed a 5-3 win in the season series opener last month in Ontario, but the Silver Knights got revenge on Saturday with a 3-1 victory. In total, the two teams will play against each other eight times during the 2022-23 regular season. The Reign are winless in their last five contests and have slipped to fifth place in the Pacific Division, where the top seven teams are separated by just six points. Henderson also has ground to make up in the standings, currently sitting at the bottom among the 10 clubs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Despite continuing to play well defensively, the Reign are looking to get their offensive game back on track after three straight games in which they’ve only managed to score a single goal. Ontario ranks fifth in the league in goals allowed per game, conceding just 2.69 tallies per contest. The Reign have been at their best when getting out to a lead, posting a 6-0-1 record this season when holding an advantage after 40 minutes. While the Silver Knights have struggled offensively, scoring just 2.56 goals per game from their first 16 contests, they allow an average of 29 shots per night, which is the sixth lowest in the AHL. Henderson has also been impressive on the penalty kill, discarding 89.1% of opponents’ man-advantages which is the third-best rate in the league.

LAST TIME OUT: The Henderson Silver Knights scored twice in the third to take control of an even game that had been deadlocked after each of the first two periods and ultimately defeat the Ontario Reign by a 3-1 score on Saturday afternoon at The Dollar Loan Center. Tyler Madden netted the only goal of the day for the Reign in the second period, while goaltender Matt Villalta made the start and turned aside 23 shots in a losing effort that included multiple breakaway denials. Villalta kept his goals-against average at 2.04 and his save percentage at 0.930 for the season, both of which rank in the top five in the AHL.

MADDEN MAKING IT COUNT: With his second period tally on Saturday, forward Tyler Madden became the only Reign player to score in both contests against Henderson this season. The winger, who changed numbers this season and now dons No. 10, has posted three goals and five points in 12 outings to begin 2022-23. Now in his third pro season, the Deerfield, Fla. native has appeared in 74 career AHL games with Ontario, scoring 41 points on 18 goals and 23 assists. Madden reached career-highs last year with 14 goals and 31 points in 48 contests for the Reign.

SCOUTING THE SILVER KNIGHTS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson has had a slow start to the 2022-23 season by recording just five wins from their first 16 games. Former Reign forward Sheldon Rempal is leading the team in scoring with 12 points on six goals and six assists, while Pavel Dorofeyev, the team’s leading scorer from last season, is back for another run and has scored three goals in nine games. Forwards Gage Quinney (4-6=10), Jonas Rondbjerg (4-5=9) and Byron Froese (2-7=9) have also made an impact offensively, while defender Daniil Miromanov has five goals and six assists in 13 games. In goal, Jiri Patera has appeared in 10 games to begin his third season with Henderson, posting a 3-6-0 record with a 3.15 goals-against average, while veteran Michael Hutchinson has played in four contests and Laurent Brossoit has seen time in four games since returning from an injury.

VILLALTA AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME: Goaltender Matt Villalta has played well in between the pipes for Ontario this season, winning three of his five starts while allowing just 11 total goals to earn a goals-against average of 2.04 and a 0.930 save percentage. With a 31-save shutout of Colorado earlier this month, Villalta secured his first clean slate since April 24, 2021 when he turned aside 34 shots to blank the Condors in Bakersfield. The Godfrey, Ont. native’s goals-against and save percentage both rank fifth among all active AHL netminders. Villalta has built off a standout season during 2021-22 when he posted a 28-10-7 record in 46 games with a career-best 2.98 goals-against and a 0.903 save percentage.

SPENCE SUPPLIES THE ASSISTS: Defender Jordan Spence recorded assists in two of Ontario’s three games last week and now has 12 total helpers this season in 13 total games which is tied for seventh-most in the AHL. Spence’s point total also has him tied for fifth in scoring among all league defenders. The Sydney, Australia native led all Reign skaters with five shots on goal in Saturday’s game and leads the team this season with 45 total shots which also ranks third-most among AHL blueliners. Spence has now been credited with 50 assists in 59 career AHL games.

WARDING OFF THE COMPETITION: Forward Taylor Ward led Ontario last week, scoring three points from the club’s three contests with a goal and two assists. The Kelowna, B.C. native scored a goal and added a helper last Thursday in San Jose before picking up another assist in Sunday’s loss to San Diego. The rookie attacker has six points in his first 13 games for Ontario this season (3-3=6) after recording 10 points in 16 outings to begin his pro career at the end of 2022-23 (3-7=10).

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