WHO: Ontario Reign (13-7-1) at Tucson Roadrunners (10-7-3)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #22
WHEN: Saturday, December 10 @ 6:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Tucson Convention Center – Tucson, AZ
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: After prevailing in overtime on Friday night, the Ontario Reign will aim for a second consecutive road decision in Tucson on Saturday against the Roadrunners at the Tucson Convention Center. Friday’s victory marked the first time this season that the Reign have earned a win when trailing after the second period. The two teams split their first two meetings of the season two weeks ago in Ontario with Tucson securing a 3-1 decision on Nov. 26 before the Reign bounced back with a 4-3 win the following afternoon. Ontario comes into the contest in third place in the Pacific Division with 27 points, while the Roadrunners are in seventh with 23 points.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Starring again in Friday’s game, Cal Petersen has led the Reign in each of their first four games to open the month after being loaned to the team by the LA Kings. With his play leading the way, Ontario has continued to be a top team in the league defensively, currently ranking third in the AHL by conceding just 2.52 goals per game. The Reign have also been at their best when getting out to a lead, posting a 11-0-1 record this season when holding an advantage after 40 minutes. Tucson ranks in the middle of the pack on both offense and defense, scoring an average of 3.10 goals per game (16th) while allowing 3.25 tallies per contest (21st). The Roadrunners also lead the league in penalty minutes per game, averaging 21 PIM per contest from their first 20 games.
LAST TIME OUT: An overtime goal by Quinton Byfield sent the Ontario Reign past the Tucson Roadrunners by a final score of 4-3 on Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center. Cal Petersen earned the victory for Ontario by stopping a total of 44 shots, while Andre Lee netted his first professional goal, Lias Andersson posted a goal and an assist and TJ Tynan had a pair of helpers.
BYFIELD CALLS GAME: Quinton Byfield continued his hot play Friday, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime for the Reign. The strike was Byfield’s second GWG of the 2022-23 season, second career overtime tally and the fourth winning goal of his AHL career. The Newmarket, Ont. native is now on a three-game point streak with four goals and two assists during the run and has 11 points in his last seven contests (6-5=11). On Sunday, Byfield led the Reign over Bakersfield by scoring three times to record his first professional hat trick that included two shorthanded goals. The forward leads the Reign with eight goals in 11 AHL games this season along with a total of 13 points.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: Tucson has been led offensively by returning forward Michael Carcone, who is in the top 10 of AHL scorers with 26 points in 19 games on eight goals and 18 assists. The attacker also leads the team with 13 power play points and is second with 39 penalty minutes. Center Jean-Sebastien Dea has posted 11 goals which ranks first among all Roadrunners skaters, while Laurent Dauphin has made an impact with 16 points in 18 games (six goals, 10 assists). Defender Cam Dineen leads the club’s blueliners with 11 points, which have consisted of a goal and 10 helpers. In net, Ivan Prosvetov has led the way with six wins in 12 appearances while posting a 2.94 goals-against average along with a 0.909 save percentage. Veteran Jon Gillies has also seen action in eight games and has a record of 4-3-2.
PETERSEN TAKES THE REINS: Since being loaned to Ontario at the start of the month, goaltender Cal Petersen has put the team on his back, winning three games during four consecutive appearances while playing 238 consecutive minutes. In each of his first two starts, Petersen stopped 27 shots while backstopping Ontario to a victory. He was named the first star of the game last Friday in a 3-1 win over Colorado, turning aside all 13 shots he saw in the third period to preserve the win. Petersen also picked up a win in the team’s triumph against Bakersfield on Sunday when he faced 29 shots and made a season-high 44 saves in Friday’s overtime triumph in Tucson. Overall, the netminder has a 2.01 goals-against average and a 0.939 save percentage thru his first 10 days with the Reign this season.
TYNAN TURNS UP: Reign captain TJ Tynan has increased his offensive output recently, posting seven points in his last five games on a goal and six assists. The center had back-to-back games in which he recorded a pair of assists in wins over Tucson and Colorado Nov. 27 and Dec. 2 respectively before scoring his second goal of the season on the power play Wednesday night against Henderson. Tynan leads Ontario with 23 points this season (2-21=23) while his assist total ranks as the third-most in the AHL.
FINDING SUCCESS AT THE START: The Reign have been at their best when they score the opening goal this season, posting a 9-0-1 mark in the 10 contests they’ve found the back of the net first. Ontario has also been a perfect 7-0-0 in games when they’ve held a lead after one period of play and 11 of the club’s 13 victories have come with a lead after 40 minutes of play.