WHO: Ontario Reign (34-31-5-1) at Henderson Silver Knights (28-38-0-5)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #72
WHEN: Saturday, April 15 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: The Dollar Loan Center – Henderson, NV
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign and Henderson Silver Knights wrap up the 2022-23 regular season with the back half of a weekend home-and-home series on Saturday night in Henderson at the Dollar Loan Center. The Silver Knights claimed a victory in the series opener Friday night during the Reign’s home finale and now Ontario is looking for revenge and aiming to play spoiler on Saturday. In seven meetings with the Silver Knights this season the Reign hold a 4-3-0 record. Ontario claimed a 3-2 shootout win in the most recent matchup in Henderson on Feb. 11.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Regardless of Saturday night’s outcome, the Reign will enter the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the Pacific Division. However, it is still yet to be determined whether Ontario will face the Colorado Eagles or Abbotsford Canucks in the opening round of the postseason next week. The schedule for round one is expected to be announced following Saturday night’s results. Ontario’s special teams have both been some of the AHL’s best this season, including an 84.2% mark on the penalty kill that ranks fourth in the league and a power play conversion rate of 22% which is seventh best. Henderson is in the middle of the pack among both special teams with a 18.8 power play percentage and an 80.4% penalty killing rate.
LAST TIME OUT: Three third period goals broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Henderson Silver Knights past the Ontario Reign by a score of 5-2 Friday night, spoiling Ontario’s regular season finale at Toyota Arena on Fan Appreciation Night. Lias Andersson scored his 30th goal of the season and also assisted Tyler Madden’s 20th tally of the year in the loss for Ontario, while Jordan Spence picked up his 40th helper of the 2022-23 campaign.
80 POINTS FOR TYNAN: After being named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team Thursday, Reign captain TJ Tynan recorded an assist for the fifth straight game Friday night on a first period tally by Tyler Madden. Tynan’s 72 assists lead the league and his overall scoring total has reached 80 points for the season which is third-most among AHL skaters. It’s just the second time in the Orland Park, Illinois native’s nine-year professional career that he’s reached the 80-point mark and he’s done it in back-to-back seasons after finishing 2021-22 with 98 points on his way to being named the league’s Most Valuable Player. With one game to play on the schedule Saturday, Tynan has appeared in all 71 of Ontario’s contests this season.
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 28-38-0-5 and will come up short of qualifying for the postseason. Gage Quinney is leading the Silver Knights in overall scoring with 63 points in 65 games on 25 goals and a team-high 38 assists. Former Reign forward Sheldon Rempal is second in scoring for Henderson this season with 61 points and has tied Quinney with 25 goals. Center Gemel Smith has made a big offensive impact since joining the roster with 16 points in 18 contests on five goals and 11 helpers, while Sakari Manninen has 39 points in 52 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 seven points on a goal and six assists in the seven meetings. Tyler Madden has also found success against Henderson, scoring a team-high five goals in the series along with an assist for six points. Samuel Fagemo (1-4=5) and Lias Andersson (3-2=5) have each registered five points 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 nine points against Ontario this season on three goals and six assists in seven games. Gage Quinney has also made a big impact with six goals in the series, while Byron Froese has four goals and two assists for six points, including the game-winning goal on Friday. 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 last 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 after Saturday’s regular season finale.
LOTS TO SAY ABOUT SPENCE: With assists in back-to-back games, Jordan Spence has set a new AHL career-high in scoring this season with 44 points. The blueliner now has an even 40 helpers on the season, which is fifth-most among all league defensemen. Spence’s point total is also tied for eighth among defenders this season, despite him appearing in 55 of Ontario’s 71 games. In 101 career AHL contests with the Reign over the past two campaigns, Spence has registered 86 points on eight goals and 78 assists. The Sydney, Australia native has also totaled 24 assists on the power play this season which is tied for third-most in the league.
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, 2-5 L – Full Recap
Sat., Apr. 15 at Henderson, 7:00 p.m.