REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario vs. Colorado, 3/29

WHO: Ontario Reign (33-26-4-1) vs. Colorado Eagles (34-21-6-3)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 29 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The Ontario Reign face off against the Colorado Eagles Wednesday night at Toyota Arena for the penultimate regular season meeting between the two teams. The Reign are looking for their fifth win in seven contests with Colorado during 2022-23, which would be their second-highest winning percentage against a Pacific Division opponent behind San Diego. Ontario has won each of its last three games, defeating Tucson last Wednesday before completing a home sweep of Abbotsford on Friday and Sunday. The Eagles were recently swept in Colorado by Tucson last weekend, falling 7-1 on Saturday before a 2-1 defeat in overtime on Sunday afternoon.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Despite gaining just a single point last weekend, Colorado clinched a spot in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs and currently sits in a tie for third place in the Pacific Division with Abbotsford. The Reign are six points back of the Eagles and Canucks, holding fifth place in the standings with a five-point edge on sixth place Bakersfield. Ontario’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is down to five points. The Reign’s special teams have both been some of the AHL’s best this season, including an 84.6% mark on the penalty kill that’s tied for third in the league and a home power play conversion rate of 26.2% which is second highest.

LAST TIME OUT: Tyler Madden scored at 2:17 of overtime on Sunday to give the Ontario Reign a 3-2 win and a sweep of a their two-game series with the Abbotsford Canucks this weekend at Toyota Arena. Lias Andersson and Samuel Fagemo both had multi-point efforts, each posting a goal and an assist in the victory for Ontario, while Matt Villalta picked up the win in net with 27 saves.

MOVES LIKE MOVERARE: With two assists in Ontario’s overtime win Sunday afternoon, Jacob Moverare has posted points in three straight games for the first time in his AHL career. The defender has totaled five assists during the run, including a helper in Tucson last Wednesday night before adding two assists in each of the Reign’s wins against Abbotsford over the weekend. Moverare, a native of Ostersund, Sweden, has also posted a +4 rating during the stretch, which has included wins in all three contests. Overall this season, the blueliner has played in 54 contests with Ontario and scored 24 points on four goals and 20 assists. Moverare, a former fourth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft, has also suited up in two games at the NHL level with the LA Kings.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Eagles are led by Charles Hudon who is up to 25 goals and 47 points on the season which both rank first on the team. Hudon’s 16 power play goals are the most in the American Hockey League this season. Forward Callahan Burke is second on the club in scoring with 35 points which consist of 16 goals and 19 helpers. Longtime NHLer Alex Galchenyuk has also made an offensive impact with Colorado, scoring 33 points in just 35 games on 15 goals and 18 assists. Defender Keaton Middleton is tied for the team lead among blueliners with 24 points on three goals and 21 assists. In goal, Justus Annunen has appeared in 36 games this season for the Eagles, while veteran Keith Kinkaid came over in a deal at the NHL’s trade deadline and has played in five games since joining Colorado, posting a 2-3-0 record with a 2.59 goals-against average and a 0.915 save percentage. Annunen’s season-long record is 19-9-7 along with a GAA of 2.66 and a 0.913 save percentage.

INSIDE THE SERIES: TJ Tynan is the Reign’s top scorer against the Eagles this season, averaging two points per game against his former club with a goal and 11 assists in six outings along with a +3 rating. Jordan Spence is also over a point per contest against Colorado with two goals and six assists for eight points. Lias Andersson leads Ontario with five goals and seven penalty minutes against the Eagles this season, while both Taylor Ward (3-3=6) and Alan Quine (2-4=6) have also earned six points. Cal Petersen is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and 0.930 save percentage against the Eagles, while Matt Villalta is 2-1-0 in four appearances with a 2.60 GAA and an accompanying 0.922 save percentage. Sampo Ranta has posted five points against Ontario this season to lead all Colorado skaters on two goals and three assists. Charles Hudon has added three goals in the series and Keaton Middleton leads his club with four assists against the Reign.

PK STANDING OUT: 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 63 of their last 70 penalties, a rate of 90%. That run has vaulted them into third in the AHL’s season-long penalty killing rankings at 84.6%, ranking just behind league leader Chicago at 85.0%. The Reign’s home killing percentage of 86.8% is also the best in the league, with Ontario allowing just 16 man-advantage goals despite being shorthanded 121 times.

TOP NOTCH TOBY: Known for his excellent defensive play, Tobias Bjornfot has gotten more involved offensively of late, recording points in four straight games and scoring three times in Ontario’s last seven contests. Bjornfot has more than doubled his season-long goal total in the process, now with five tallies. The Upplands Vasby, Sweden native scored his first power play goal of the season in last Wednesday’s win over Tucson, which stood up as his second game-winning strike of the year. Bjornfot has also contributed seven assists this season while appearing in 46 contests with the Reign and an additional helper in eight NHL games with the LA Kings. The 21-year-old has already suited up for 114 NHL games in his young career, registering a goal and 14 assists.

2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Colorado (all times Pacific):
Thu., Nov. 3 at Colorado, 2-0 W – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 5 at Colorado, 3-7 L – Full Recap
Fri., Dec. 2 vs. Colorado, 3-1 W – Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 17 at Colorado, 7-3 W –
Full Recap
Wed., Jan. 18 at Colorado, 2-5 L – Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 31 vs. Colorado, 5-2 W – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 29 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Apr. 2 vs. Colorado, 3:00 p.m.

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