REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario at Tucson, 3/21

WHO: Ontario Reign (30-25-4-1) at Tucson Roadrunners (26-28-6-0)
WHEN: Tuesday, March 21 @ 6:30 PM Pacific
WHERE: Tucson Convention Center – Tucson, AZ
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The Ontario Reign continue their four-game road trip this week with a pair of contests in Tucson against the Roadrunners. The series will be the final two regular season meetings between the two clubs during 2022-23. Ontario has won four of the first six contests, with a record of 4-2-0. Although the Reign have hit a recent skid, they still remain seven points ahead of Tucson in the Pacific Division standings.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This week’s series features two teams that are looking to get back on track and close out their playoff berths during the final three weeks of the regular season. While the Reign are still holding fifth place in the standings, they’ve slipped further behind Abbotsford and Colorado and are now aiming to stay above sixth-place Bakersfield who is just three points back of Ontario with 12 games remaining. The Roadrunners on the other hand, have  hold of the final spot in the Pacific’s postseason, clinging to the seventh position by a single point over San Jose who is on the outside looking in. The Reign’s special teams have both been some of the AHL’s best this season, including an 84.3% mark on the penalty kill that’s third in the league and a power play conversion rate of 22.5% which is tied for sixth.

LAST TIME OUT: Despite holding a decisive 44-24 shots on goal margin and getting two tallies from leading goal-scorer Lias Andersson, the Ontario Reign were bested by the Abbotsford Canucks on Saturday night by a final score of 5-2 at the Abbotsford Centre. The Canucks were led by goaltender Arturs Silovs who turned aside 42 shots, as well as Matt Alfaro who added two goals and an assist. Reign captain TJ Tynan assisted on both of his linemate Andersson’s goals in a losing effort.

LIAS LIGHTS THE LAMP: By finding the back of the net in both the second and third periods on Saturday, Lias Andersson added to his career-highs in scoring and reached 25 goals on the season for Ontario. Just eight AHL skaters have recorded more goals than Andersson this season, who is only four back of the league’s leaders. Andersson’s third period strike, which came on the man-advantage, moved him into double-digits for the season with 10 power play goals. The Smogen, Sweden native is just two points shy of reaching 50 on the year, which would make him the seventh player in Ontario’s AHL history to hit that milestone.

SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: Tucson has been led offensively by forward Michael Carcone, who is third in the AHL with 68 points this season in 53 games on 26 goals and 42 assists. Carcone is also tied for the league lead with 13 power play goals and second with 31 man-advantage points. Forwards Jean-Sebastien Dea and Adam Cracknell are next on the team’s scoring leaderboard, with 43 and 41 points respectively. Dea has 19 goals and 24 assists, while Cracknell has posted 16 goals and 25 helpers in 53 games. Defender Michael Kesselring, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal, leads the club’s blueliners with 24 points, including a goal and an assist in his first three games with the Roadrunners. Tucson has a new look in net after a recall for Ivan Prosvetov to Arizona and Jon Gillies was traded to the Columbus organization. Tyler Parks has taken over, appearing in 12 contests with a 3.05 goals-against average.

INSIDE THE SERIES: In the six previous matchups between the Reign and Roadrunners this season, TJ Tynan leads Ontario with eight points on a goal and seven assists. Tyler Madden has also made an impact for the Reign with five points in the series on two goals and three assists, while Lias Andersson has a goal and three helpers. Cal Petersen has a record of 2-1-0 in three outings against the Roadrunners with a 0.952 save percentage, while Matt Villalta is 2-0-0 with a 2.47 goals-against average this season. Tucson has been led by forwards Adam Cracknell and Michael Carcone, who have each posted six points. Cracknell has a team-high four goals and two assists, while Carcone has a goal and five assists. Jean-Sebastien Dea has also chipped in three goals against Ontario. Goaltender Tyler Parks has played one contest in the series, allowing three goals in a losing effort.

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 53 of their last 59 penalties, a rate of 89%. That run has vaulted them into third in the AHL’s season-long penalty killing rankings at 84.3%, ranking just behind league leader Milwaukee at 85.1%. The Reign’s home killing percentage of 86.2% is also tied for the best in the league, with Ontario allowing just 16 man-advantage goals despite being shorthanded 116 times.

70 POINTS FOR TYNAN: Reign captain TJ Tynan earned assists on both of Lias Andersson’s goals in Saturday’s loss to Abbotsford to reach the 70-point mark for the season and remain the AHL’s scoring leader on the year. It’s the third time in Tynan’s historic pro career that he’s recorded 70 points in a season and he’s done it while playing in all of the team’s 60 games so far this year. In addition to ranking first in overall league scoring, Tynan is also the AHL’s leader in assists (62), power play assists (31) and power play points (34).

2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Tucson (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 26 vs. Tucson, 1-3 L – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 27 vs. Tucson, 4-3 W – Full Recap
Fri., Dec. 9 at Tucson, 4-3 OTW – Full Recap
Sat., Dec. 10 at Tucson, 3-2 OTW – Full Recap
Fri., Feb. 3 vs. Tucson, 0-2 L – Full Recap
Sat., Feb. 4 vs. Tucson, 5-2 W – Full Recap
Tue., Mar. 21 at Tucson, 6:30 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 22 at Tucson, 6:30 p.m.

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