WHO: Ontario Reign (29-17-2-1) vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds (31-9-4-2)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #50
WHEN: Wednesday, February 22 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign host the Coachella Valley Firebirds at Toyota Arena Wednesday night, the third meeting between the two teams in six days. Ontario is fresh off a win over the Firebirds on Monday afternoon in Palm Desert, earning their fourth shootout victory of the year by a score of 3-2. Wednesday’s contests will be the sixth of eight matchups between the two clubs this season and the Reign have played the No. 2 team in the Pacific tough, posting a 3-1-1 record in their first five against the league’s newest team. Ontario has outscored Coachella Valley 20-18 in the series while also scoring on seven of their 20 power plays opposing the Firebirds’ penalty kill (35%).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With their win on Monday at Acrisure Arena, Ontario has now secured points from each of its last seven games, dating back to Feb. 4. The Reign have moved up into fourth place in the Pacific Division standings for the first time since Dec. 20, and they have an opportunity to climb into third place with a win on Wednesday. Coachella Valley is in second place through its first 46 games in franchise history with 68 points and a winning percentage of 0.739. The Firebirds rank fourth in the AHL’s defensive rankings, averaging 2.67 goals allowed per game, and fifth on offense, scoring 163 goals (3.54). Ontario ranks just behind their opponent in sixth in the league’s defensive rankings, surrendering 2.76 goals per game. The Reign have been led by captain TJ Tynan against the Firebirds, who has scored a team-high eight points in the five previous battles with a goal and seven assists. Martin Chromiak has also been a big factor in the series, totaling a team-leading four goals including a hat trick on Jan. 21. Coachella Valley’s leader against Ontario is their captain, Max McCormick, who matched Chromiak with a hat trick of his own on Jan. 21 and has nine points in the series on five goals and four assists.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign never trailed but needed a shootout to defeat Coachella Valley on Monday afternoon, winning by a final score of 3-2 to improve their record to 3-1-1 against the Firebirds in their inaugural season. Aidan Dudas scored a goal and an assist in the victory for Ontario, while Samuel Fagemo scored the winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout and Cal Petersen earned the win with 36 saves during regulation and overtime and then stopped all four attempts he faced in the skill session.
DUDAS REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: With a shorthanded goal during the second period of Monday’s shootout win, Aidan Dudas set a new professional career-high with 24 points in 49 games for Ontario this season. Dudas has also tied his previous career-best with 10 goals this year when he netted his first shorthanded tally of 2022-23. The Parry Sound, Ont. native has totaled 153 games in his pro career, all of which have come with Ontario. Dudas was originally selected by the LA Kings in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, the Firebirds have been one of the strongest teams in the Pacific Division during their first season in the league. Forward Max McCormick is leading the team in overall scoring with 48 points on 21 goals and 27 assists. Right behind him is Jesper Froden, who has a club-high 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points. Froden’s goal total is second-most in the AHL. Coachella Valley is missing veteran Andrew Poturalski, who posted 42 points on 11 goals and 31 assists in 38 games prior to an injury sustained on Jan. 26. Defender Brogan Rafferty has the most points among Firebirds’ blueliners with 30 on five goals and 25 helpers. In net, Joey Daccord has claimed the majority of the minutes while appearing in 29 games and posting a 2.53 goals-against average and a 19-6-3 record this season.
PERFECT SHOOTOUT FOR PETERSEN: Cal Petersen stopped all four shots he faced during Monday’s shootout to record his third AHL victory of the season in the skill session and 13th overall. Petersen is 3-0 in shootouts for Ontario, stopping nine of the 10 attempts he’s faced for a 90% save percentage while making sure the Reign have three additional points in the standings. In 23 games played for Ontario this season, Petersen has a 13-8-2 record with a goals-against average of 2.59 and a 0.919 save percentage. The netminder’s save percentage ranks sixth-highest of all qualifying AHL goaltenders.
CHROMIAK’S HEROICS: After being stopped on a breakaway early in overtime on Saturday night, Martin Chromiak made his second shift count, ducking past a defender and using a wrist shot to put the puck into the top left corner of the net to score his first AHL OT game-winning goal. Chromiak bookended the scoring for Ontario that night in San Diego, netting the opening goal of the game on a breakaway off a feed by linemate Jack Becker and finished the contest with his third-career game-winning goal, all of which have come against the rival Gulls. The Ilava, Slovakia native now has 12 goals and 22 points in 33 games played this season. His goal total ranks third on the team, while his point total is tied for sixth-most among Reign skaters.
ROAD WARRIORS: With the shootout win in Coachella Valley on Monday, Ontario extended their season-long road unbeaten streak to seven straight games, which dates back to an overtime win in Calgary on Jan. 25. After that contest, which included a come from behind performance ending in two straight goals by Lias Andersson, the Reign won three straight away from the Inland Empire in San Diego, Bakersfield and Henderson before falling short in OT to San Jose last Wednesday and defeating the Gulls and Firebirds over the holiday weekend. Overall, the Reign have a 15-9-1-1 record in 26 road games this season while securing 32 points in the standings.
2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Coachella Valley (all times Pacific):
Wed., Dec. 28 at Coachella Valley, 6-7 L – Full Recap
Sun., Jan. 8 at Coachella Valley, 3-2 SOW – Full Recap
Sat., Jan. 21 vs. Coachella Valley, 4-5 OTL – Full Recap
Fri., Feb. 17 vs. Coachella Valley, 4-2 W – Full Recap
Mon., Feb. 20 at Coachella Valley, 3:00 p.m. – Full Recap
Wed., Feb. 22 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 31 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Apr. 12 at Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.