REIGN PREVIEW 11/12 – Ontario vs. Colorado

WHO: Ontario Reign (6-4-1) vs. Colorado Eagles (6-4-3)
WHEN: Sunday, November 12 @ 3:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign are looking to avenge a pair of recent losses to Colorado Sunday afternoon when they host the Eagles for the first time this season. Last weekend in Loveland, Colorado claimed back-to-back wins over the Reign by identical 5-3 scores.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign are two points back of Colorado in the Pacific Division standings entering Sunday, with each club having secured six victories so far this season. The Eagles sit in fourth with two extra points by way of overtime losses after 13 contests, while Ontario has played 11 games. The Reign are coming off a split of their most recent two home contests against Tucson, recently claiming a 2-1 win to cap the series on Friday at Toyota Arena. Colorado won on the road in San Diego Saturday night by a score of 5-2. The Eagles also recently lost to Henderson in overtime on Wednesday night by a 5-4 score. The Reign have had an evenly balanced team thus far during their first 11 games of the regular season, scoring 32 total goals while allowing 33 which comes out to an average of about three per game on both sides of the puck. Ontario has been led by Charles Hudon, who turned things up a notch last weekend while returning to his former home in Colorado with five points in two games including four goals. Hudon’s team-high 12 points have come on seven goals and five assists. Just behind him is TJ Tynan, who posted a pair of assists Wednesday night to reach 10 points on the year. Friday’s contest is the third of eight scheduled matchups (four home, four away) between Ontario and Colorado this season.

LAST TIME OUT: 30 saves by goaltender Erik Portillo kept the Tucson Roadrunners to a single goal Friday night, allowing the Ontario Reign to earn a 2-1 win on Hockey Fights Cancer night at Toyota Arena. The Reign goals both came in the second period from Akil Thomas and Jacob Doty. For Thomas, the tally was his first of the season, while Doty picked up his team-leading third game-winning strike of the year.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign and Eagles had an even series during the 2022-23 regular season, with the teams evenly splitting their eight clashes 4-4-0, and 2-2-0 on each other’s home ice. Ontario outscored Colorado by the slimmest of margins, posting 25 goals while allowing 24. The Reign scored eight times on the man advantage against the Eagles last season for a conversion rate of 20.5%. Ontario’s captain TJ Tynan led his team’s offense in the series against his former team with 14 points, a goal and 13 assists. However, Colorado ended the Reign’s year for the third consecutive postseason, sweeping a best-of-3 playoff series last April with wins by scores of 3-2 (OT) and 6-4.

DO IT WITH DOTY: Forward Jacob Doty has been scoring at the right times for Ontario early on this season. His most recent strike came during the second period of Friday night’s win over Tucson and held up as the game-winner. All three of Doty’s goals have turned out to be the deciding tally in a Reign win so far this season, with game-winners scored in Henderson on Oct. 27 and two nights later to beat Abbotsford on Oct. 29. The rugged forward is already just one tally away from tying his AHL career-high of four which came for the Chicago Wolves during the 2015-16 regular season when he also had eight points.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Colorado enters Sunday’s matchup as the fourth-place team in the Pacific Division standings and just two points back of the top spot in the table. Forward Riley Tufte leads the Eagles in both goals and overall scoring with nine tallies and 12 points while appearing in nine of the club’s 13 games. Defender Brad Hunt is back for a second campaign in Colorado and has earned 10 points on four goals and six assists, while fellow blueliners Caleb Jones and Sam Malinski have also contributed six points from the back end. Forward Peter Holland is third on the team with seven points on four goals and three helpers. Returning goaltender Justus Annunen has been a standout performer in his first nine appearances for a goals-against average of 2.53, securing five of the team’s six wins.

CLARKE COMES THROUGH: Rookie defender Brandt Clarke scored his third goal of the 2023-24 season on the power play in the third period Wednesday to send the game to overtime. The strike was Clarke’s second man-advantage goal of the season, and he is one of only two players to score multiple times when the Reign have been up a man this year, joining Charles Hudon. The Ottawa, Ont. native leads Ontario in power play scoring, posting a team-high four points on the man advantage (2-2=4). Through 11 games in 2023-24, Clarke has posted nine points on three goals and six assists while sending 44 shots on net, four less than Hudon, which ranks as the second-most in the AHL among defensemen. The Kings’ former first-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft is also among the top 10 of the league’s defensive scorers early on this season.

AKIL GETS OFF THE SCHNIDE: Ontario forward Akil Thomas batted home his first goal of the season during Friday night’s win, knocking a rebound off a shot by Alex Turcotte out of the air and into the cage from the side of the net. The tally was Thomas’s first since Nov. 5, 2022, after the forward was injured almost a year ago and missed all but 13 games during the 2022-23 campaign. The fourth-year forward has added two assists to open the season but seems to have found a home playing on a line with Turcotte and Taylor Ward, which produced offensive pressure Friday night. Thomas, a former second-round pick of the LA Kings in 2018, has 50 points in 104 games during his AHL career dating back to the 2021 season.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Colorado (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 3 at Colorado, 3-5 L – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 4 at Colorado, 3-5 L – Full Recap
Sun., Nov. 12 vs. Colorado, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 16 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 30 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 2 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 20 at Colorado, 6:05 p.m.
Sun., Apr. 21 at Colorado, 2:05 p.m.

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