WHO: Ontario Reign (34-30-5-1) vs. Henderson Silver Knights (27-38-0-5)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #71
WHEN: Friday, April 14 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: There is still plenty to play for as the Ontario Reign open a weekend series against the Henderson Silver Knights on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Ontario’s final two contests of the regular season will decide their seeding to begin the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. In six meetings with the Silver Knights this season the Reign hold a 4-2-0 record, with a 3-2 shootout win in the most recent matchup on Feb. 11. Most recently, Ontario came up short in Coachella Valley on Wednesday by a score of 3-2 after taking three points from a two-game series in Abbotsford last weekend. Henderson fell in Bakersfield Wednesday by a score of 4-2 and is 5-5-0 in their last 10 contests.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario comes into tonight’s game tied in fifth place in the Pacific Division standings with the Bakersfield Condors. Each team has two games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season and will face either the Colorado Eagles or Abbotsford Canucks in the opening round of the postseason next week. Ontario’s special teams have both been some of the AHL’s best this season, including an 84.5% mark on the penalty kill that ranks fourth in the league and a power play conversion rate of 21.5% which is seventh best. Henderson is in the middle of the pack among both special teams with a 18.5 power play percentage and an 81% penalty killing rate.
LAST TIME OUT: The Coachella Valley Firebirds scored three times in the first period and held off a late rally by the Ontario Reign to secure a 3-2 win in the final game of the inaugural season series between the Southern California rivals on Wednesday night at Acrisure Arena. Ontario’s goals in the contest came from Samuel Fagemo and Tobie Bisson, while captain TJ Tynan assisted on each strike to increase his league-leading total to 71 helpers on the season.
TYNAN BRINGS HOME THE HARDWARE: Reign captain TJ Tynan was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team Thursday in a vote by coaches, players, and media in each of the league’s 32 member cities. The forward is currently leading the league with 71 assists and ranks third in overall scoring with 79 points while playing in all 70 of Ontario’s contests. Tynan is also the AHL’s leader in both power play assists with 35, and power play points (38). Tynan is just the fourth player in league history to record at least 70 assists in back-to-back seasons and will join Art Stratton as the only AHL players ever to lead the league in assists on three separate occasions. The 31-year-old was also previously selected as the AHL’s Les Cunningham Award Winner as the league’s Most Valuable Player in both 2021 and 2022 and has skated in 568 career AHL games and recorded 93 goals and 432 assists for 525 points.
SCOUTING THE SILVER KNIGHTS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson sits in ninth place in the Pacific Division standings with an overall record of 27-38-0-5 and will come up short of qualifying for the postseason. Gage Quinney is leading the Silver Knights in overall scoring with 62 points in 64 games on 24 goals and a team-high 38 assists. Former Reign forward Sheldon Rempal is second in scoring for Henderson this season with 59 points and has tied Quinney with 24 goals. Center Gemel Smith has made a big offensive impact since joining the roster with 15 points in 17 contests on five goals and 10 helpers, while Sakari Manninen has 39 points in 51 games on 13 goals and 26 assists. Defender Lukas Cormier leads the team from the back end with 35 points on 10 goals and 25 assists. In goal, Jiri Patera has appeared in 30 games during his third season with Henderson, posting a 2.93 goals-against average and a 0.908 save percentage.
INSIDE THE SERIES: TJ Tynan is the Reign’s top scorer against the Silver Knights this season, scoring six points on a goal and five assists in the six meetings. Tyler Madden has also found success against Henderson, scoring a team-high four goals in the series along with an assist for five points. Samuel Fagemo and Alan Quine, a former Silver Knight himself, each have registered four points on a goal and three assists in the series. Matt Villalta has two wins in three contests against Henderson, allowing just seven goals for a goals-against average of 2.30 and a 0.926 save percentage. Sheldon Rempal has totaled seven points against Ontario this season on two goals and five assists in six games. Gage Quinney has also made a big impact with five goals in the series, while Byron Froese has three goals and two assists for five points. Jiri Patera has made two starts against Ontario, allowing just three goals for a 1.45 GAA and a 0.951 save percentage to claim a 1-0-1 record.
PLAYOFF FATE SECURED: The Reign officially qualified for the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs Friday night by virtue of their overtime loss in Abbotsford and a San Jose loss to Colorado. Ontario now sits at 74 points and will open postseason play next week with a best-of-3 road series as they begin to compete for the Calder Cup. The 2023 postseason appearance marks Ontario’s second consecutive trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs and fourth AHL postseason berth. It is the first time the Reign have reached the playoffs in back-to-back years since qualifying in the first three years of their AHL existence (2015-18). 15 players from last year’s Reign playoff roster are still with the team, eight of them who were making their postseason debuts. Ontario’s first round opponent and schedule are to be determined and will be announced at a later date.
THE DUDAS ABIDES: Aidan Dudas scored his third career game-winning goal in the third period Saturday night to give the Reign a 2-1 win on the road in Abbotsford. The strike was his 12th tally of the year and 30th point of the 2022-23 season, both of which are career highs for Dudas. A former fourth-round selection by the LA Kings in the 2018 NHL Draft, Dudas has also put a total of 118 shots on net for Ontario this season, one of seven skaters to reach triple digits in that category. The Parry Sound, Ontario native has appeared in all 70 Reign contests and is sixth on the team in overall scoring this season, with the majority of his points, 22 of 30, coming at even strength.
2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Henderson (all times Pacific):
Tue., Oct. 18 vs. Henderson, 5-3 W – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 19 at Henderson, 1-3 L – Full Recap
Sun., Nov. 20 vs. Henderson, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Wed., Dec. 7 vs. Henderson, 1-3 L – Full Recap
Wed., Jan. 11 at Henderson, 6-3 W – Full Recap
Sat., Feb. 11 at Henderson, 3-2 SOW – Full Recap
Fri., Apr. 14 vs. Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 15 at Henderson, 7:00 p.m.