WHO: Ontario Reign (19-13-1) at Colorado Eagles (21-11-3-0)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #34
WHEN: Tuesday, January 17 @ 6:05 PM Pacific
WHERE: Budweiser Events Center – Loveland, CO
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign make their second and final trip to Colorado for a two-game series against the Eagles beginning Tuesday night at the Budweiser Events Center. Ontario has a 2-1-0 record in their previous three matchups with Colorado this season, with the two most recently facing off at Toyota Arena on Dec. 2 which resulted in a 3-1 decision for the Reign. Ontario also came away with a split from their first series of the year in Loveland on Nov. 3 and 5.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is looking to make up ground in the standings this week as the club currently sits in fifth in the Pacific Division standings, six points behind the Eagles who occupy the fourth-place spot. The Reign have scored an average of just over three goals per game through their first 33 contests (3.06), while offense has been tougher to come by for Colorado who is 22nd in the AHL scoring rankings (2.91). Ontario’s penalty kill remains strong at 83.6% after a perfect 4-for-4 weekend against San Diego and is 6th-best in the league this season. Colorado is currently the top defensive team in the AHL, allowing just 2.4 goals per night through 35 games.
LAST TIME OUT: Five different goal scorers including Martin Chromiak, who led the way with three points, sent the Ontario Reign past the San Diego Gulls 5-2 Saturday night at Toyota Arena. The victory gave the Reign a second sweep of San Diego this season from a pair of home-and-home weekend sets and their fourth win in five contests between the two SoCal rivals. Cal Petersen turned out 30 shots to earn the victory for Ontario, while Aidan Dudas posted a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to four games and Nikita Pavlychev netted his first AHL goal of the season.
CHROMIAK SHINING BRIGHT: Martin Chromiak extended his career-high point streak to four games Saturday with his first-ever three-point performance in the win over San Diego, for which he was named the game’s No. 1 star. The attacker had the first assist on linemate Nikita Pavlychev’s first goal of the season to open to scoring in the first, before setting up Aidan Dudas for a strike on a 2-on-1 rush and then netted his third goal of the season with 33 seconds to go in the middle period off a feed by Dudas to push the Ontario lead to 4-0. Chromiak’s point streak started when he posted his first career AHL goal on Jan. 8 in a win at Coachella Valley. He then followed up that performance with an assist on a tally by Tobie Bisson Wednesday in Henderson and scored the game-winning strike in the third period on Friday in San Diego. The Illava, Slovakia native has now registered nine points in 17 contests for the Reign during his rookie professional season.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Eagles are healthier than they were when they last faced Ontario more than six weeks ago. Jean-Luc Foudy is back in Loveland after a nine-game call-up with Colorado and is leading the team in scoring this season with 23 points in 27 games on eight goals and 15 assists. Charles Hudon, who also played in nine games with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, has returned to the Eagles and is just behind Foudy with 22 points in 26 games on a team-leading 12 goals and 10 assists. Winger Callahan Burke has scored 10 goals and 19 points for Colorado, while longtime NHLer Alex Galchenyuk and Oskar Olausson have also made an offensive impact with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Defender Keaton Middleton leads the active blueliners with 14 points on a goal and 13 assists. In goal, Justus Annunen and Jonas Johansson have both had success while splitting time evenly between the pipes. Johansson has a 9-6-0 record in 15 appearances with a 2.15 goals-against average while Annunen earned a 12-5-3 record in 20 contests with a GAA of 2.39.
DUDAS DELIVERS: While playing alongside Martin Chromiak over the past two weeks, Aidan Dudas has produced an identical four-game point streak consisting of six points on a goal and five assists. Dudas’ longest run of the season has been highlighted by assists in each of his past four games, including helpers on all three of Chromiak’s goals. The Parry Sound, Ont. native also had a pair of primary helpers in Ontario’s 6-3 win over Henderson on Wednesday. In Saturday’s win over San Diego, Dudas netted his seventh goal of the season and is now just three tallies shy from matching his career-high of 10, which he set last season in 61 games. Overall, Dudas has 15 points this season (7-8=15) while suiting up for all 33 of Ontario’s contests.
LIAS STAYS HOT: With his team-leading 12th goal of the season Saturday, Lias Andersson found the back of the net for the third time last week. The Smogen, Sweden native is now tied for second on the team in scoring with 23 total points in 28 games with Ontario this season (12-11=23). Andersson has also taken more of a shoot-first approach during the Reign’s recent win streak, totaling 18 shots on goal over Ontario’s last four games (all wins). The attacker is averaging a point per game from the club’s first six contests of 2023 with three goals and three assists and also leads the team with seven power play goals this season.
GAUNCE THRIVING ON DEFENSE: While he’s one of just three Ontario skaters who have yet to score a goal this season, Cameron Gaunce has been dependable on the back end, leading the team with a +13 rating from his 28 contests. There’s an 8-goal differential between Gaunce and the next-highest-rated Reign skater, Austin Wagner, who has totaled a plus-5 mark in 19 games. Although he has yet to be credited with a goal, Gaunce is never afraid to direct the puck at the net and ranks third among Ontario blueliners with 37 shots on goal. The Sudbury, Ont. native has collected five assists for the Reign and is just six points away from 300 in his 13-year AHL career.