WHO: Ontario Reign (22-15-1-1) vs. Calgary Wranglers (29-10-2-0)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #40
WHEN: Sunday, January 29 @ 5:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: After playing three road games this week, the Ontario Reign are back home Sunday for a matchup with the Calgary Wranglers at Toyota Arena. Sunday’s contest is the third meeting of the week between the Reign and Wranglers, with the two having recently split a midweek set up north at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary was victorious on Tuesday by a 4-3 score before Ontario claimed a come-from-behind decision Wednesday, 3-2 in overtime. The win was the Reign’s first in five contests against the Wranglers this season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Coming off a road victory in Henderson on Saturday, Calgary is locked in a tie with Coachella Valley for first place in the Pacific Division, each having secured 60 points in the standings. Any points secured by the Wranglers on Sunday would move them into sole possession of the top spot in the table. Meanwhile, Ontario is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and sits in fifth place, four points behind fourth-place Abbotsford. Calgary is the top offensive team in the AHL, scoring the most total goals (157) for a league-leading average of 3.83 per game. The Wranglers are also the second-best team defensively, allowing just 2.54 tallies per contest. Despite an uptick in their recent offensive output, Ontario remains a defensive-oriented team and ranks eighth in the league by allowing 2.82 goals per game. Lias Andersson has led the Reign with six points in the team’s five previous matchups with Calgary on five goals and an assist, while Connor Zary has also produced six points for the Wranglers against Ontario with a goal and five helpers.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign got their offense going Saturday night, scoring three times in each of the first two periods on their way to a 7-2 road victory over the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena. Lias Andersson continued his recent hot play, earning a four-point game for the first time in his career, while TJ Tynan had four assists for the second time in Ontario’s last four games and Tyler Madden posted his first-career three-point night with two goals and an assist.
TYNAN’S TAKEOVER: January has been the best month of the season for Reign captain TJ Tynan, who is leading in the AHL with 22 points in the team’s 12 games since the calendar flipped to 2023. Dating back to the team’s trip to Colorado last week, Tynan has netted or helped set up 13 out of Ontario’s last 18 goals, including a goal and 12 assists. In San Diego Saturday night, Tynan recorded his fourth consecutive multi-point game and extended his current point streak to six games by tying his career-high with four assists. The Orland Park, Illinois native has now reached the 50-point plateau for the fourth time in his AHL career and currently ranks second in the league in overall scoring while leading all skaters with 44 assists.
SCOUTING THE WRANGLERS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, the Wranglers have been instantly competitive in their first year playing in Calgary. The team’s leading scorer Matthew Phillips has 45 points in 35 games on 23 goals and 22 assists. His goal total leads the way in the AHL, and he ranks sixth in the league in overall scoring. Phillips has also been credited with eight game-winning goals this season which leads the league. Behind him, Connor Zary leads the team with 27 helpers and ranks second with 41 points. Rookie defender Jeremie Poirier leads the team’s blueliners with 25 points in 39 games on four goals and 21 assists. Former Reign captain Brett Sutter has been a mainstay in the team’s lineup, scoring 22 points on 10 goals and 12 assists while appearing in 39 of the Wranglers’ 41 contests. In net, reigning AHL Goaltender of the Year Dustin Wolf has played 31 games and picked up where he left off last season with a 2.20 goals-against average and a 0.928 save percentage with a record of 24-5-1 and four shutouts.
LIAS LEADS THE WAY: Lias Andersson’s four-point night Saturday was just the most recent display in a month filled with highlights. Combined with three goals earlier in the week against Calgary, Andersson has now scored five times in Ontario’s last three games and 10 in his last 9 outings. The Smogen, Sweden native leads the Reign with 19 goals overall this season and is currently on a season-high seven game point scoring streak in which he’s totaled 12 points (8-4=12). Andersson took matters into his own hands Wednesday, scoring a game-tying power play goal with 2:11 remaining in the third period before adding a game-winning strike 33 seconds into overtime to give Ontario its first-ever victory over Calgary. He has now recorded multiple goals in a game five times during the 2022-23 campaign.
MADDEN THE GAMER: Tyler Madden, who was placed on a line with TJ Tynan and Lias Andersson prior to Saturday night’s contest in San Diego, also had a big night for Ontario in the win by earning a career-high three points with two goals and an assist. Both of Madden’s goals came on the power play from the front of the net with his first extending Ontario’s lead to 2-0 at 12:41 of the first, while his second late in the middle period and made it 6-2 in favor of the Reign. The two goals put the third-year pro into double figures for the season with 10 tallies in 38 games. Madden also has a new career-high with four power play goals on the year.
FRESH FACES JOIN ONTARIO’S ROSTER: Ontario’s roster received four additions Friday, including two familiar faces who were recalled from ECHL-Greenville in Tyler Inamoto and Brett Kemp, as well as two others from the ECHL in Jack Becker and Hank Crone. Both Kemp and Becker made their season debuts for the Reign in Saturday’s 7-2 win over San Diego. Inamoto has been valuable for the Swamp Rabbits, appearing in 26 games on the back end, while Kemp has posted 19 points in 20 games at the ECHL level on nine goals and 10 assists. Becker and Crone are both in their rookie professional seasons after completing careers in the NCAA. With the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, Becker has 27 points in 38 games (9-19=27) in addition to a +14 rating. Crone has also impressed as a rookie with the Allen Americans and is fourth in the ECHL with 48 points (20-28=48) in 37 games.