WHO: Ontario Reign (33-29-4-1) at Abbotsford Canucks (37-23-3-4)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #68
WHEN: Friday, April 7 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Abbotsford Centre – Abbotsford, BC
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV (FREE) – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: With just five games remaining on the 2022-23 regular season schedule, the Ontario Reign have the opportunity to clinch a spot in the postseason Friday night when they face the Abbotsford Canucks on the front end of a two-game weekend series at the Abbotsford Centre. The pair of matchups represent the sixth and seventh times that the two teams have met since the beginning of March. The Reign are looking to take command of the season series, having split the first six games of the season against Abbotsford with a 3-3-0 record. Most recently Ontario fell to Colorado on Sunday afternoon by a score of 2-1, while the Canucks won a pair of games in Manitoba last week 4-2 and 2-1. The Reign took the most recent meetings between the two teams two weeks ago at Toyota Arena with 4-1 and 3-2 wins on Mar. 24 and 26.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Abbotsford has wrapped up its spot in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs and is currently one point behind the Colorado Eagles for third place in the Pacific Division. The Reign are still looking to solidify their playoff berth, currently holding sixth place. But they remain within striking distance of fifth, just one point back of Bakersfield in the standings with five games remaining. Ontario’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is down to two points and it can punch their ticket with either a win on Friday or a San Jose loss of any kind to Colorado. Ontario’s special teams have both been some of the AHL’s best this season, including an 84.1% mark on the penalty kill that’s fourth in the league and a power play conversion rate of 21.3% which is seventh best.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign had an early lead on a first period goal by Lias Andersson, but the Colorado Eagles came from behind with goals in the second and third periods to earn a 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Arena. Eagles’ goaltender Keith Kinkaid stopped 27 of the Reign’s 28 shots on goal in the game, including all 21 he faced in the second and third periods to earn the win for Colorado. Ontario captain TJ Tynan had the lone assist on Andersson’s goal for his league-leading 66th helper of the season.
LIAS LEADS THE WAY: With a first period power play goal on Sunday, Lias Andersson increased his team-high goal total to 28 this season which is eighth-most among AHL skaters. His 13 tallies on the man-advantage are also the most on the team and rank third in the league. Andersson’s 53 points overall are a career-high for the sixth-year pro, who has played 62 games with Ontario and an additional contest for the LA Kings this season. Andersson has suited up for 110 NHL games in his career with the Kings and New York Rangers, and 155 AHL contests with the Reign and Hartford Wolf Pack.
SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford’s top scorer during 2022-23 is former Reign defender Christian Wolanin, who had 55 points in 49 games on six goals and 49 assists before a recall to Vancouver in mid-February. Linus Karlsson is the team’s active leader in both goals and points, posting 21 tallies and 25 assists for 46 points in 67 games. Justin Dowling is just behind him with 43 points on 11 goals and 32 assists, while Tristen Nielsen has 38 points on 14 goals and 24 helpers. Arturs Silovs has seen the most action in between the pipes of the team’s netminders, going 24-11-5 in 41 appearances this season while leading the club with a 2.47 goals-against average. Silovs has only started twice against Ontario in the five meetings between the teams, posting a 1-1-0 record with six goals allowed and a 2.87 GAA.
INSIDE THE SERIES: TJ Tynan and Lias Andersson are the Reign’s top scorers against Abbotsford after six head-to-head contests, each with six points apiece. Four of Tynan’s points were earned on opening night when the team’s captain led the way with a goal and three assists in an 8-2 blowout win to open the 2022-23 season. After scoring twice in Abbotsford last month and a two-point effort in Ontario’s most recent overtime win, Andersson has now totaled four goals and two assists in the series. Defender Jacob Moverare has five helpers in the six games, with four of them coming in the two most recent matchups. Abbotsford has seen Marc Gatcomb record five points in the six meetings on two goals and three assists, while Nils Höglander and Arshdeep Bains have each scored three goals and an assist. Aatu Räty has also posted four assists in four games against Ontario. Spencer Martin has played well in net against the Reign, winning two of his three starts and allowing just five goals in the process for a goals-against average of 1.65.
LAFERRIERE LOOKING THE PART: Alex Laferriere will play his first road games with the Reign this weekend, making the trip to Abbotsford with the team after debuting last week with two contests in Ontario. A former third round NHL Draft selection by the LA Kings in 2020, Laferriere is playing on an ATO with the Reign and posted a team-high five shots on goal in the club’s recent loss to Colorado on Sunday. Before turning pro, the Chatham, N.J. native had a pair of standout collegiate seasons in the NCAA at Harvard University, recording 73 points in 69 games with 35 goals and 38 assists along with a +26 rating. The 21-year-old registered 42 points in 34 games this season on an even 21 goals and 21 assists while leading the Crimson in goal scoring and shots on goal (150).
REIGN ADD LINDEN ON PTO: On Wednesday, the Reign announced they’d made an addition to the roster, signing forward Ture Linden to a professional tryout agreement. Linden joins Ontario after recently completing his collegiate career in the NCAA at Penn State University where he registered 29 points in 39 games this season with 11 goals and 18 assists. Linden led the Nittany Lions, who made an NCAA Tournament appearance out of the Big-10, in assists and finished second in overall scoring. The Great Falls, Va. native also previously played at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) from 2018-22 and served as the team’s captain during the 2021-22 season when he was named to the ECAC Second All-Star Team after scoring 39 points (20-19=39) in 44 games.
2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Abbotsford (all times Pacific):
Fri., Oct. 14 vs. Abbotsford, 8-2 W – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 1 vs. Abbotsford, 2-3 L – Full Recap
Fri., Mar. 17 at Abbotsford, 0-4 L – Full Recap
Sat., Mar. 18 at Abbotsford, 2-5 L – Full Recap
Fri., Mar. 24 vs. Abbotsford, 4-1 W – Full Recap
Sun., Mar. 26 vs. Abbotsford, 3-2 OTW – Full Recap
Fri., Apr. 7 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 8 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
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