WHO: Ontario Reign (9-6-1) vs. Tucson Roadrunners (10-5-1)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #17
WHEN: Sunday, November 27 @ 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 Tucson Roadrunners meet for the second consecutive day at Toyota Arena Sunday afternoon, wrapping up a two-game series this weekend in Ontario. The Roadrunners prevailed in the opener on Saturday evening, claiming a 3-1 win behind 31 saves from goaltender Jon Gillies. Last season, on their way to a second-place finish in the Pacific Division the Reign posted a 5-2-1-0 record against Tucson, while the Roadrunners did not qualify for the postseason. This season has been different for the Arizona Coyotes’ affiliate, as the club is tied for second in the standings with 21 points through 16 games. The two teams will once again play against each other eight times during the 2022-23 regular season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign are looking to close out November on a high note, but the second month of the season hasn’t been as kind to Ontario as October was. After posting a 6-1-0 record in their first seven games, the Reign are just 3-5-1 in nine contests during November. Ontario has continued to be a top team in the league defensively, currently ranking fourth in the AHL by conceding just 2.56 goals per game. The Reign have also been at their best when getting out to a lead, posting an 8-0-1 record this season when holding an advantage after 40 minutes. While they have a winning record, Tucson ranks in the middle of the pack on both offense and defense, scoring an average of 3.19 goals per game (14th) while allowing 3.06 tallies per contest (15th).
LAST TIME OUT: After trading goals in the first period, a power play goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea was enough offense for the Tucson Roadrunners to defeat the Ontario Reign in the teams’ first matchup of 2022-23 to begin a two-game weekend series on Saturday night at Toyota Arena. Forward Aidan Dudas netted the lone goal for the Reign during the first period, which came with assists from Samuel Helenius and Martin Chromiak. Pheonix Copley made his third straight start in between the pipes for Ontario, stopping 32 shots in a losing effort.
DEVIL IN THE DUDAS: Forward Aidan Dudas scored his sixth goal of the season during the first period on Saturday night to reclaim the title of the team’s leading goal scorer. The Parry Sound, Ont. native has also amounted a plus-five rating on the season, which ranks third highest on the club. Dudas’ six goals have all come in different games this year. In his three professional seasons, the attacker has never scored more than once in a game, with his 22 tallies all coming on different days. Dudas is more than halfway to his career-high in goal scoring, which was set last season when he netted 10 in 61 contests.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: Tucson has been led offensively by returning forward Michael Carcone, who is in the top 10 of AHL scorers with 21 points in 16 games on six goals and 15 assists. The attacker also leads the team with 39 penalty minutes this season. Center Jean-Sebastien Dea has posted eight goals which ranks first among all Roadrunners skaters, while Laurent Dauphin has made an impact with 12 points in 14 games (five goals, seven assists). Defender Victor Soderstrom leads the club’s blueliners with eight points, which have all come from assists. In goal, Tucson has ridden returning netminder Ivan Prosvetov, who has won in six of his 10 appearances and holds a 2.72 goals-against average along with a 0.917 save percentage. Veteran Jon Gillies has also seen action in seven games and has a record of 4-2-1.
COUNT ON CHROMIAK: Forward Martin Chromiak has earned assists in back-to-back outings, following up Wednesday’s contest where he recorded his first-career AHL point with another assist on Aidan Dudas’ goal Saturday. The Ilava, Slovakia native has appeared in four games with Ontario during 2022-23, his first full professional season after making his North American pro debut in May of the shortened 2020-21 campaign when he saw time in two contests with the Reign. The former fifth round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft is coming off an outstanding final junior campaign with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs where he racked up 86 points in 60 games on 44 goals and 42 assists.
SPENCE KEEPS SHOOTING: Defender Jordan Spence has recorded six assists in Ontario’s last eight games, but the most recent highlight of his season came on Wednesday when he scored his first goal of the 2022-23 season. Coming off a feed from Alex Turcotte behind the net, Spence blasted the puck into the cage to extend the Reign’s comfortable lead in the second period. The blueliner also led Ontario with six shots on net during the game, which added to his overall season total of 54 shots which is the most of all Reign skaters and ranks second among AHL defensemen. The Sydney, Australia native’s assist total is also fifth-most in the AHL and his point total ranks fourth among league defenders.
ALL HAIL HELENIUS: Forward Samuel Helenius has posted assists in consecutive contests for Ontario, earning a second helper on a first period goal by Tobias Bjornfot Wednesday evening before getting credit for a primary apple on a tally by Aidan Dudas in the first period of Saturday’s loss to Tucson. It marked the first time during his brief North American pro career that Helenius has been on the scoresheet in back-to-back games. This season the Jarvenpaa, Finland native has earned four assists in 15 games with Ontario after producing a goal during 12 outings after joining the team near the end of the 2021-22 campaign. Helenius was selected by the LA Kings in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft.