WHO: Ontario Reign (30-20-4-1) vs. San Jose Barracuda (22-27-1-4)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #56
WHEN: Wednesday, March 8 @ 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 open a new week consisting of three home games on Wednesday night against the San Jose Barracuda at Toyota Arena. Tonight’s contest is the eighth and final matchup between Ontario and San Jose during the 2022-23 regular season. The Reign have posted a record of 3-2-1-1 against the Barracuda, including a 2-1-0 mark from games played in Ontario. San Jose claimed the most recent meeting on their home ice at Tech CU Arena this past Friday by a score of 4-2. The Reign are coming off consecutive road losses last weekend, while the Cuda fell to Coachella Valley at home in their last outing on Saturday night by a 5-4 score.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario remains in close competition for home ice in the opening round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs, entering Wednesday’s game two points shy of third place in the Pacific, which is occupied by both Abbotsford and Colorado who have each earned 67 standings points this season. San Jose on the other hand is fighting for their playoff lives and currently sit in a tie for eighth place with Henderson, five points behind Bakersfield and Tucson who are occupying the final postseason positions in the division. Ontario has been a top defensive team in the AHL, entering tonight’s game in seventh in the league’s rankings by allowing just 2.84 goals per contest. The Reign are also third among AHL teams on the penalty kill at 84.2% and fourth on the power play at 23.3%.
LAST TIME OUT: Three power play goals allowed the Ontario Reign to erase an early deficit and force overtime, but a breakaway goal by Seth Griffith in the extra session gave the Bakersfield Condors the win in the final regular season matchup of the season between the two teams on Saturday night at the Mechanics Bank Arena. Samuel Fagemo scored two of the man-advantage tallies for Ontario in a losing effort, while TJ Tynan had a game-high three points with a goal and two assists and both Lias Andersson and Jordan Spence picked up a pair of helpers.
TYNAN AT THE TOP OF THE LIST: With four points from two games last weekend on a goal and three assists, Reign captain TJ Tynan has overtaken the top spot in the AHL’s scoring race. Tynan, who has played in all 55 of Ontario’s contests this season, is now leading the league with 68 points on eight goals and 60 assists. The attacker’s assist total is 11 more than the next closest player, while he also leads the AHL in power play assists (30) and power play points (33). Despite all the success, Tynan is still 30 points shy of his career-high in scoring that he set last season when he posted 98 points in just 62 games on 14 goals and 84 assists on his way to a second straight league MVP award.
SCOUTING THE BARRACUDA: San Jose is fighting for their playoff lives, holding a record of 22-27-1-4 through 54 games. Veteran forward Andrew Agozzino had been the team’s leading scorer for most of the year and currently leads the club with 45 points on a team-high 20 goals and 25 assists. Just behind him is rookie attacker William Eklund who was up to 41 points in his first pro season prior to a recent call-up from the Sharks. Thomas Bordeleau has also found the back of the net 20 times while totaling 37 points in his own rookie campaign. Defender Derrick Pouliot leads the team’s blueliners with 21 points on two goals and 19 assists but was also recalled to the NHL on Tuesday. In goal, San Jose has seen three netminders share time in between the pipes in veteran Aaron Dell and rookies Eetu Makiniemi and Strauss Mann. Makiniemi leads the way with a 2.96 goals-against average in 22 appearances, while he and Dell both have a 0.900 save percentage.
INSIDE THE SERIES: The Reign have been led by linemates TJ Tynan and Lias Andersson against the Barracuda, who each have a team-leading seven points in the previous seven matchups between the two teams. Andersson has two goals and five assists, while Tynan has totaled a goal and six helpers. After posting two goals in the most recent tilt, Tyler Madden has now scored six times in the seven series meetings to lead Ontario. Taylor Ward and Jacob Moverare have both accounted for five points on two goals and three assists, while Samuel Helenius has posted an additional five points on a goal and four assists. San Jose’s leader against Ontario is their captain Andrew Agozzino, who has two goals and five assists in the seven games. In addition, Jeffery Viel has earned six points on an even three goals and three assists, and goaltender Aaron Dell is 2-0-0 against the Reign with a 2.00 goals-against average and a 0.930 save percentage.
ANDERSSON’S ASSISTS: While Lias Andersson is Ontario’s team leader in goals scored this season with 23 tallies, he’s also dished out quite a few assists of late. The Smogen, Sweden native has posted five helpers in his last three games, including two in each of Ontario’s most recent outings over the weekend in San Jose and Bakersfield. Both of his assists Friday came on goals by linemate Tyler Madden and each of his helpers the following night came in the third period on goals by TJ Tynan and Samuel Fagemo. Andersson’s 23 assists this season rank third-most on the team leaderboard and are a career-high, as are his goal and point totals.
PENALTY KILL PROWESS: As the Reign have gained ground in the standings since the calendar flipped to 2023, one of the most successful aspects of their game has been the team’s performance on the penalty kill. Dating back to the start of February, Ontario has successfully killed off 41 of its last 45 penalties, a rate of 91.1%. That run has vaulted them into third in the AHL’s season-long overall penalty killing rankings at 84.2%, ranking just one percentage point behind league leaders Texas and Chicago who are over 85% for the year. The Reign’s home killing percentage of 86.7% is just .02% behind division rival Henderson.
2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. San Jose (all times Pacific):
Wed., Oct. 26 at San Jose, 2-1 W – Full Recap
Thu., Nov. 10 at San Jose, 3-4 SOL – Full Recap
Wed., Nov. 23 vs. San Jose, 5-1 W – Full Recap
Fri., Jan. 6 vs. San Jose, 2-4 L – Full Recap
Wed., Feb. 15 at San Jose, 3-4 OTL – Full Recap
Fri., Feb. 24 vs. San Jose, 6-1 W – Full Recap
Fri., Mar. 3 at San Jose, 7:00 p.m. – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 8 vs. San Jose, 7:00 p.m.