WHO: Ontario Reign (30-22-4-1) vs. Calgary Wranglers (41-15-3-0)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #58
WHEN: Sunday, March 12 @ 3:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign are set to close out a home series against the Calgary Wranglers on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Arena. Calgary, the top team in the AHL’s Pacific Division, shut out the Reign on Friday evening by a 2-0 final. Sunday’s matchup will be the final meeting of the regular season between the two foes, with the Wranglers having won six of the seven contests already this year. Prior to Friday’s clash, both teams were in action on Wednesday with Ontario falling 6-2 to the San Jose Barracuda while Calgary claimed a 2-1 victory at home over Colorado.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario remains in close competition for home ice in the opening round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs, entering Sunday’s game two points shy of the Colorado Eagles for fourth place in the Pacific. Calgary has the top point total in the division (85), but remains behind Coachella Valley in points percentage, as the Firebirds have played five less games thus far. The Wranglers rank first in the AHL on the defensive side of the puck, allowing just 2.53 goals per game, and have the third-highest offensive average at 3.59 goals per night. Calgary’s 212 total goals are the most of any club in the league. Ontario has been one of the better defensive teams in the AHL this season, entering tonight’s game tied in seventh in the league’s rankings by allowing just 2.88 goals per contest. The Reign and Wranglers are tied for fourth among AHL teams on the penalty kill, with each team discarding 84.2% of their opponents’ power play chances.
LAST TIME OUT: Dustin Wolf recorded his league-leading fifth shutout of the season with 34 saves in a 2-0 win for the Calgary Wranglers over the Ontario Reign on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Calgary’s tallies came from Clark Bishop and Cole Schwindt in the first and third periods. Cal Petersen made the start in goal for Ontario and turned aside 20 of the Wranglers’ shots in a losing effort.
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 is once again in the mix at the top of the AHL’s scoring race. Tynan, who has played in all 57 of Ontario’s contests this season, is now tied for the league lead 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 WRANGLERS: Calgary continues to hold the top spot in the Pacific Division standings and has a league-high 41 wins with 13 games remaining in their inaugural regular season. The team’s leading scorer Matthew Phillips has 59 points in 53 games on 28 goals and 31 assists. His goal total leads the way in the AHL, and he ranks fifth in the league in overall scoring. Phillips has been credited with 10 game-winning goals this season which also leads the league. Behind him, Connor Zary leads the team with 33 helpers and ranks second with 51 points. Rookie defender Jeremie Poirier leads the team’s blueliners with 38 points in 56 games on seven goals and 31 assists. Former Reign captain Brett Sutter has been a mainstay in the team’s lineup, scoring 28 points on 13 goals and 15 assists while appearing in 57 of the Wranglers’ 59 contests. In net, reigning AHL Goaltender of the Year Dustin Wolf has played 46 games and continued his excellence from last season with a 2.20 goals-against average and a 0.929 save percentage with a record of 34-9-2 and five shutouts.
INSIDE THE SERIES: The Reign have been led by linemates Lias Andersson and TJ Tynan against the Wranglers in the seven previous meetings between the teams this season. Andersson leads the way with a team-high six goals and seven points, while Tynan has five assists and six points. Calgary’s leader against Ontario has been Connor Zary, who has a team-high seven assists and eight points while appearing in all seven contests. In addition, Mitch McLain has five points with a goal and four assists and goaltender Dustin Wolf is 6-0-1 against the Reign while playing every minute of action in the series with a 1.57 goals-against average and a 0.951 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 five games, including two in each of Ontario’s outings last weekend in San Jose and Bakersfield. Both of his assists last 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.
TOP-RATE PENALTY KILLING: Since the calendar flipped to 2023, one of the most successful aspects of Ontario’s game has been the team’s performance on the penalty kill. Dating back to the start of February, Ontario has successfully killed off 46 of their last 51 penalties, a rate of 90%. That run has vaulted them into a tie for fourth in the AHL’s season-long overall penalty killing rankings at 84.2%, ranking just behind league leader Chicago who are at 85% for the year. The Reign’s home killing percentage of 86.5% is second-highest in the league, with Ontario allowing just 15 man-advantage goals despite being shorthanded 111 times.
2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Calgary (all times Pacific):
Tue., Dec. 20 at Calgary, 1-4 L – Full Recap
Wed., Dec. 21 at Calgary, 2-5 L – Full Recap
Sat., Dec. 31 vs. Calgary, 1-3 L – Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 24 at Calgary, 3-4 L – Full Recap
Wed., Jan. 25 at Calgary, 3-2 OTW – Full Recap
Sun., Jan. 29 vs. Calgary, 1-4 L – Full Recap
Fri., Mar. 10 vs. Calgary, 0-2 L – Full Recap
Sun., Mar. 12 vs. Calgary, 3:00 p.m.