REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario at San Jose, 2/15

WHO: Ontario Reign (26-17-1-1) at San Jose Barracuda (18-25-0-4)
WHEN: Wednesday, February 15 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Tech CU Arena – San Jose, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The Ontario Reign will aim for their fifth consecutive road victory Wednesday night in San Jose when they take on the Barracuda for the fifth time during the 2022-23 season. It will be the first matchup between the two clubs in almost six weeks, with the most recent contest coming in Ontario on Jan. 6, a 4-2 win for San Jose. That is the only time the Reign have lost to the Barracuda in regulation this season, as they enter tonight with a 2-1-0-1 record against their lone Northern California foe. After tonight, the two teams will see each other three more times in the next three weeks to close their season series (Feb. 24, Mar. 3 & 8). Ontario has outscored San Jose 12-10 in the first four meetings, while each team has converted on three of their power play opportunities in the series.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Despite three straight wins, the Reign still sit in fifth place in the Pacific Division standings and remain four points behind Colorado and six behind Abbotsford in the race for home ice in the opening round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Barracuda, who have played two more games than Ontario, are in eighth place, four points back of Bakersfield for seventh and the final playoff spot in the division. Ontario ranks sixth in the league’s defensive rankings, allowing 2.76 goals per game, while San Jose has been a tough team to crack on special teams with an 80.8% rate on the penalty kill. The Reign have been led by forward Taylor Ward against the Barracuda, who has scored a team-high four points in the four meetings on two goals and two assists. Tyler Madden has also been a big factor in the series, totaling a team-leading three goals. San Jose’s leaders against Ontario are recent All-Star Classic selection Thomas Bordeleau (3-0=3), as well as Jeffery Viel (2-1=3) and C.J. Suess (0-3=3).

LAST TIME OUT: For the second consecutive night, the Ontario Reign scored to tie the game in the third period and prevailed in a shootout on a winning goal by Samuel Fagemo to earn a 3-2 decision. Saturday’s victory came at the hands of the Henderson Silver Knights and featured Ontario goals by Martin Chromiak and Tobie Bisson prior to the skill session. Matt Villalta got the start in net for the Reign and stopped 37 shots in regulation and overtime before turning aside all four shooters he faced in the shootout.

FANTASTIC FAGEMO: Samuel Fagemo came up big for Ontario on back-to-back nights last weekend, scoring consecutive fourth-round shootout game-winning goals in Bakersfield and Henderson on Friday and Saturday. Each conversion secured the Reign an extra point in the standings from a game that was tied 2-2 throughout overtime. Fagemo also posted his 14th goal of the season during the second period on Friday. The Goteborg, Sweden native has found the back of the net in four of his last six AHL games, and five of his last eight, a run that dates back to early January prior to a two-week NHL call-up from the LA Kings. The third-year pro has totaled 20 points in 31 AHL contests this season, including six power play goals which are three away from his career-high of nine which he set last year. Fagemo has also scored twice for the Kings in nine NHL appearances this season.

SCOUTING THE BARRACUDA: After a hot start, San Jose has fallen below the .500 mark, holding a record of 18-25-0-4 through 47 games. Veteran forward Andrew Agozzino has been the team’s leading scorer all season and has 35 points on 16 goals and 19 assists in 42 games. Rookie attacker William Eklund also has 35 points while appearing in all of the Barracuda’s 47 games this season and leads the club with 21 assists. Thomas Bordeleau has found the back of the net 19 times, the most of any player on the team, and has totaled 32 points in his rookie campaign. Defenders Derrick Pouliot and Artemi Kniazev are tied for the team lead in defensive scoring, as each has 14 points on two goals and 12 assists. In goal, San Jose has seen two netminders share time in between the pipes in veteran Aaron Dell and rookie Eetu Makiniemi. Makiniemi, but both were recently recalled to the NHL by the Sharks. Makiniemi leads the team with a 0.900 save percentage and has also posted a 2.96 goals-against average in 22 appearances. If he is unavailable for Wednesday’s game, San Jose will turn to either Strauss Mann or Zachary Emond.

CHROMIAK CONTINUES TO SCORE: Reign rookie forward Martin Chromiak scored important goals in both of the team’s road games over the weekend and is now in double-digits for the season with 10 goals and 20 points in 29 games. The Illava, Slovakia has made the most of his chances, scoring on his only shot on goal in both of those outings. Since catching fire at the start of 2023 when he scored his first goal on January 8, Chromiak has been one of the team’s go-to options for offense. He has been on the scoresheet in three of Ontario’s first four games in February with two goals and an assist and has posted points in 13 of his last 16 contests overall. The recent conversions have increased his season-long shooting percentage to 17.5%.

BIG TIME BISSON: Defender Tobie Bisson scored his third goal of the season in the third period of Saturday’s contest at Henderson which tied up the contest and eventually forced overtime. The goal gave the blueliner points in two of his last three outings after he produced an assist in a win over Tucson at home on Feb. 4 and tied his goal-scoring career-high which was set last season with the Laval Rocket. Then on Monday, Bisson received his first-career NHL recall by the LA Kings. While Bisson is still waiting to make his NHL debut, he appeared in one preseason contest during this season’s training camp. The Rosemere, Quebec native has totaled 125 games during his AHL career, scoring 38 points on seven goals and 31 assists while earning a +22 rating and 71 penalty minutes.

SHOOTOUT SUCCESS: With two straight wins in the skill session, the Reign have improved their season-long shootout record to 3-1 in four contests. Ontario’s only shootout loss came in their first one of the season against tonight’s opponent, San Jose, at Tech CU Arena on Nov. 10. Since that night, the Reign have been on a roll in the one-on-one event, winning three straight including the two over the weekend in Bakersfield and Henderson as well as a defeat of Coachella Valley by Cal Petersen at Acrisure Arena on Jan. 8. Samuel Fagemo is the team’s lone shooter to score twice, while Lias Andersson, Akil Thomas, Tyler Madden and Alan Quine, who had the winner against the Firebirds, have also converted once.

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