REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario vs. Tucson, 2/3

WHO: Ontario Reign (23-16-1-1) vs. Tucson Roadrunners (20-20-4-0)
WHEN: Friday, February 3 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

To open February, the Ontario Reign will look to distance themselves from the team closest to them in the Pacific Division standings when their two-game weekend series with the Tucson Roadrunners begins on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Ontario has posted a 3-1-0 record in their first four matchups with the Roadrunners during 2022-23, splitting a home series in late November before sweeping a pair of road games in Tucson in December. The Reign used overtime goals on back-to-back nights to return home from their first trip to Arizona this season with four points.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With a record of 8-3-1 from their last 11 games, the Reign are one of the hottest teams in the Pacific entering February and sit in fifth place in the division standings with 48 points. Tucson, who has played an additional three games, is at .500 for the season with 20 wins and 20 regulation losses. The Roadrunners are in sixth, four points behind Ontario and can make up that difference with a pair of wins from this weekend’s series. The Reign rank seventh in the league’s defensive rankings, allowing 2.83 goals per game, while Tucson is ninth offensively, scoring 3.39 goals per contest. Ontario captain TJ Tynan has led the Reign with 6 points, all assists, in the team’s four previous matchups with Tucson, while Jordan Spence has posted three helpers. The Roadrunners have been led by Adam Cracknell (4-1=5) and Michael Carcone (1-4=5), each with five points in four contests.

LAST TIME OUT: Powered by four first period goals, the Ontario Reign defeated the visiting Colorado Eagles by a final score of 5-2 on Tuesday night at Toyota Arena to complete the first month of 2023 with an 8-5-1 record from 14 contests. Matt Villalta got the start for Ontario and stopped a season-high 43 shots while playing in his 100th career AHL game, all of which have been with the Reign. Taylor Ward also had a big night with two goals and an assist, while Aidan Dudas and Jordan Spence each had a goal and an assist in the victory.

TYNAN NAMED AHL PLAYER OF THE MONTH: On Wednesday, the AHL announced Reign captain TJ Tynan as the league’s Player of the Month award winner for January. Tynan skated in 14 games for Ontario during the month and totaled three goals and 22 assists for 25 points – the most in a calendar month by any AHL player in more than six years. The 30-year-old’s scoring was highlighted by two four-assist efforts, helping on all four Reign goals in an overtime loss to Coachella Valley on Jan. 21 before matching that output in a 7-2 win at San Diego on Jan. 28. The attacker brings an eight-game scoring streak into February, with 19 points over that span and is the first player to record 25 points in a month since the Chicago Wolves’ Kenny Agostino in December 2016. After entering January tied for 26th in the AHL in scoring, Tynan now ranks second with 53 points – including a league-leading 47 assists – while appearing in all the Reign’s 41 games this season.

SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: Tucson has been led offensively by returning forward Michael Carcone, who leads the AHL with 61 points this season in 37 games on 22 goals and 39 assists. Carcone also leads the league with 29 power play points on 11 man-advantage goals and 18 assists. Forwards Jean-Sebastien Dea and Laurent Dauphin are next on the team’s scoring leaderboard, each with 36 points. Dea has an even 18 goals and 18 assists, while Dauphin has posted 16 goals and 20 helpers in 38 games. Defender Cam Dineen leads the club’s blueliners with 31 points, which have consisted of three goals and 28 helpers. In net, Ivan Prosvetov has led the way with 12 wins in 26 appearances while posting a 3.28 goals-against average. Veteran Jon Gillies has also seen action in 15 games and has a record of 5-8-2.

SUPERIOR SPENCE: Jordan Spence has continued to be a difference-maker for Ontario on defense while helping on the offensive end with assists in seven of his last nine contests to increase his season total to 28 helpers which ranks second on the roster. The Sydney, Australia native also found the back of the net for the third time this season on the power play in the Reign’s most recent outing, a win over Colorado on Tuesday night. 16 of the second-year blueliner’s helpers have come via the power play, which is sixth-most in the AHL. Spence also ranks fourth in defensive scoring with 31 points (3-28=31) and second among blueliners with 120 shots on net. The Sydney, Australia native has also suited up for three games with the LA Kings this season, adding to his 27 career games at the NHL level with the club that selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

TAYLOR MADE: Taylor Ward earned a season-high three points from Tuesday night’s win over Colorado, registering two goals and an assist. It was also the first-career multi-goal game for the rookie, who was playing in his 41st game of 2022-23 and his 57th career AHL contest. Ward netted a goal at 13:13 of the first off a centering feed from Alan Quine before adding an empty-net strike at 16:15 of the third period on a pass by his other linemate Aidan Dudas. Ward also posted the first assist on a goal by Dudas at 15:47 of the first. The Kelowna, B.C. native now has 20 points overall on the season with eight goals and 12 assists.

ALL QUINE ON THE WESTERN FRONT: Alan Quine has been heating up for Ontario as of late, posting points in three of his last four games, three of which have been wins for the Reign. After earning an assist on Lias Andersson’s late game-tying goal in Calgary last Wednesday, Quine scored his fifth goal of the season in the third period of Saturday’s win in San Diego. The veteran then picked up two assists in a span of three minutes Tuesday night during a victory over Colorado, assisting on goals by both of his linemates, Taylor Ward and Aidan Dudas. Quine finished the contest with a +2 rating and has now totaled an even 20 points on the year for Ontario.

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