REIGN PREVIEW 10/21 – Ontario at Bakersfield

WHO: Ontario Reign (1-2-0) vs. Bakersfield Condors (1-0-0)
WHEN: Saturday, October 21 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Mechanics Bank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO – Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Fresh off their first victory of the season in San Diego on Friday, the Ontario Reign travel to Bakersfield for a matchup with the Condors on Saturday night at Mechanics Bank Arena.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is looking for its second win of the weekend which would bring the team’s record back to .500 after they opened the season last week by dropping a pair of contests to San Diego. The Reign have been led on the offensive end by a pair of newcomers in forward Charles Hudon (1-2=3) and defenseman Joe Hicketts (0-3=3), who have each posted three points in the club’s first three games. Saturday’s contest is the first of eight scheduled matchups (four home, four away) between the Reign and Condors this season. The next time Ontario and Bakersfield will see each other will be in early December for a home-and-home weekend series (Dec. 8-9).

LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign held off the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena on Friday night by a score of 3-2 to earn their first win of the 2023-24 season and return the favor of spoiling a rival’s home opener. A week prior, the Gulls opened the season with a win in Ontario at Toyota Arena. David Rittich stopped 31 San Diego shots to earn his first win as a member of the Reign and Ontario’s offense was boosted in the victory by goals from Taylor Ward, Martin Chromiak and TJ Tynan. The Reign scored all three of their tallies with an extra man on the ice, including two power play goals and another strike during a delayed penalty to the Gulls.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Ontario had a back-and-forth series with the Condors last season, playing well at times but also going through struggles while dealing with Bakersfield’s style of play. In eight contests in 2022-23, the Reign managed a 4-3-1 record against the Condors, including a 3-1-0 mark in front of their home fans. Ontario outscored Bakersfield by a slim 23-21 margin in last season’s series and produced a solid effort on the penalty kill by discarding 24 of the Condors’ 27 power play chances for a rate of 88.9%. Captain TJ Tynan was Ontario’s leading scorer against the Condors last season, posting eight points in the eight-game series on a goal and seven assists.

CHROMIAK ENJOYING SUNNY SAN DIEGO: Second-year forward Martin Chromiak scored his first goal of the 2023-24 season on Friday, blasting a one-timer into the net off a feed from Charles Hudon while Ontario was on a man-advantage. Chromiak has now been on the scoresheet in back-to-back games for the Reign after posting an assist on Brandt Clarke’s power play goal Sunday afternoon. The Ilava, Slovakia native has been at his best when Ontario visits San Diego, scoring at least once in each of his four career appearances at Pechanga Arena and racking up five goals in four total games. The former fifth-round selection by the LA Kings in 2020 is coming off a rookie year in which he scored 28 points in 55 games on 15 goals and 13 assists.

SCOUTING THE CONDORS: Bakersfield earned a victory in its first outing of 2023-24, a 3-2 triumph over the Firebirds on the road in Coachella Valley last Friday to open the season. The Condors qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs last spring with a fifth-place finish in the highly competitive Pacific Division with a record of 37-31-2-2. Their leading scorer from the past two campaigns, forward Seth Griffith, has returned for year four in Bakersfield and posted an assist in the team’s opening night win. Griffith, who finished with 80 points in 2021-22, had 60 last year with 17 goals and 43 assists while playing in all 72 of the club’s regular season games. Defenseman Cam Dineen is another important returner for the Condors, who joined the team at the trade deadline last season and scored 12 points in 19 contests down the stretch. Both goaltenders from last year’s squad are back for another season, led by Calvin Pickard who picked up the win over the Firebirds in the opener last week with 36 saves.

THINGS CLICKING FOR CLARKE: Defenseman Brandt Clarke turned heads in both of Ontario’s season-opening home games last weekend. While the rookie didn’t produce any points in his first AHL contest of the new season last Friday, he was still heavily involved in Ontario’s offensive attack by piling up a total of 10 shots on goal in a losing effort for the Reign, including five in the third period as Ontario attempted a comeback. The blueliner then scored his first goal of the campaign Sunday by wristing a shot to the back of the net on the power play that tied the game at 3-3 in the second period. He also added the primary assist on TJ Tynan’s third period power play goal Friday night, which stood up as the game-winning strike for Ontario. Clarke made his AHL debut last November, appearing in five contests for the Reign while posting a goal and an assist before finishing his season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts where he starred with 61 points in just 31 outings on 23 goals and 38 helpers.

THE CAPTAIN COMES THROUGH: Reign captain TJ Tynan took matters into his own hands during the third period Friday night in San Diego, sending a slap shot past the glove of goaltender Alex Stalock to score his first goal of the season and give his team their first two-goal lead of the year. While the Gulls eventually cut it back to a one-goal game, Tynan’s tally was the difference when the final horn sounded for Ontario’s first victory. The strike was the Orland Park, Ill. native’s first point of the new season and the 94th goal of his AHL career. It also moved the two-time league Most Valuable Player into a tie with Brett Sutter for AHL-Ontario’s all-time scoring lead of 180 points. Tynan’s 157 career assists with the Reign is also the most by any player since the team started AHL play in 2015-16.

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