WHO: Ontario Reign (24-17-1-1) at Bakersfield Condors (18-22-2-1)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #44
WHEN: Friday, February 10 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Mechanics Bank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign return from the AHL’s All-Star break Friday to take the ice in Bakersfield for their seventh meeting of the 2022-23 season against the Condors at Mechanics Bank Arena. The Reign hold a 3-3-0 record from their first six contests with the Condors this season. After tonight’s matchup, the two teams have one final meeting on the schedule in Bakersfield on Saturday, March 4. Ontario has outscored Bakersfield 16-14 and outshot the Condors 172-150 in the first six meetings which have been defensive contests. Each club has only netted two power play goals in the series.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: As the Reign prepare for the season’s stretch run, they hold a four-point cushion over Tucson for fifth place in the Pacific Division standings and remain six points behind fourth-place Abbotsford. The Condors, who have played the same amount of games as Ontario, are in a tie for seventh place with San Jose. The Reign rank sixth in the league’s defensive rankings, allowing 2.79 goals per game, while the Condors score 2.93 goals per game and allow an average of 3.23 tallies per contest. Ontario forwards Lias Andersson and TJ Tynan each lead the Reign with five points, all coming on assists, in the team’s six previous matchups with Bakersfield, while Samuel Fagemo has posted three goals. The Condors have been led by Xavier Bourgault (3-0=3) and Brad Malone (1-2=3) in the series, each posting three points.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign scored three times in the first period and got 36 saves from goaltender Cal Petersen on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners Saturday night at Toyota Arena. Tyler Madden led the way for the Reign on offense, scoring three points with two goals and an assist, while Lias Anderson registered two assists. In splitting a two-game weekend series with the Roadrunners, Ontario went a combined 10-for-10 on the penalty kill, including five kills in each game and a crucial 5-on-3 against during the third period.
TYNAN HELPS PACIFIC TO ALL-STAR CLASSIC TITLE: Reign captain TJ Tynan had an impressive performance on Monday in the AHL’s All-Star Classic held in Laval, Quebec, helping to lead a team of Pacific Division skaters to victory in the championship game of the 3-on-3 showcase. Tynan led all players in the event with six points by totaling three goals and three assists in three games of round-robin play. The Pacific team knocked off the Atlantic Division 1-0 in the final matchup to take home the trophy for the first time since the showcase adopted the current format. Tynan was recently named the AHL’s Player of the Month for January, totaling 25 points in 14 games on three goals and 22 assists. He currently ranks second in the league in scoring, posting 55 points with seven goals and a league-high 48 assists.
SCOUTING THE CONDORS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Bakersfield is currently in a tie with the San Jose Barracuda for the seventh and final playoff position in the Pacific Division with 39 points each. In their last 10 games prior to the AHL All-Star break, the Condors went 6-3-0-1. Leading scorer Seth Griffith, who represented the team in Laval earlier this week, has 34 points this season in 43 games on 11 goals and 23 assists. Behind him, Raphael Lavoie has posted 23 points in 32 games on 12 goals and 11 assists, while rookie forward Xavier Bourgault is up to 21 points (10-11=21). Blueliner Michael Kesselring has also been a big offensive contributor from the back end and is tied with Lavoie for the team lead in goals with 12 while earning 19 points overall. In goal, Calvin Pickard leads the team with a 2.89 goals-against average, a 0.912 save percentage and a record of 10-6-1, while Olivier Rodrigue has appeared in 20 games and holds a 3.03 goals-against and a 0.908 save percentage.
PETERSEN PUTTING UP A FIGHT: Cal Petersen, who has played the most games of any goaltender in Reign history (135) and second-most in franchise history behind Martin Jones (158), had a busy series prior to the All-Star break, turning aside 38 shots last Friday before denying 36 on Saturday to earn his 10th AHL win of the season. The netminder has now allowed two or fewer goals in each of his past four starts to lower his season AHL goals-against average to 2.64 while raising his save percentage to 0.918.
SUPERIOR SPENCE: Jordan Spence has continued to be a difference-maker for Ontario on defense while helping the offensive end with assists in eight of his last 11 contests to increase his season total to 29 helpers which ranks second on the roster. 16 of the second-year blueliner’s helpers have come via the power play, which is sixth-most in the AHL. Spence also ranks fifth in defensive scoring with 32 points (3-29=32) and is tied with Bakersfield’s Michael Kesselring for the lead among blueliners with 124 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.
MADDEN MAKES IT HAPPEN: Tyler Madden tied a career-high with his second three-point effort in the team’s recent win over Tucson on Saturday, giving him two games with three points in his last five outings. Each of the third-year forward’s standout efforts consisted of two goals and an assist, with the first coming in San Diego on Jan. 28. Madden scored the opening goal at 6:03 of the first Saturday night, burying a cross-ice feed by linemate Lias Andersson to give Ontario an early advantage. He then played a big role late in the game, securing insurance for the Reign in the final seconds with an empty-net goal and an assist. Madden is two goals away from matching his career-high, with 12 in 42 contests this season. Overall, he has 22 points on 12 tallies and 10 helpers along with a plus-5 rating.