REIGN PREVIEW 11/21 – Ontario at Coachella Valley

WHO: Ontario Reign (8-4-1-1) at Coachella Valley Firebirds (8-5-0)
WHEN: Tuesday, November 21 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Acrisure Arena – Palm Desert, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio, 91.9 FM KVCR – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign travel to Palm Desert for their second matchup of the season against the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Tuesday night at Acrisure Arena.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is coming off a successful homestand, securing standings points from all five of its recent contests at Toyota Arena over the past two weeks with a 3-0-1-1 record. The Reign enter Tuesday’s contest in fifth place in the Pacific Division with 18 points, while Coachella Valley is just behind them in sixth with 16 points. The Firebirds are three games over .500 and have managed to outscore their opponents by 13 goals with a margin of 49-36 through just 13 games. Ontario has had mostly balanced results thus far during their first 14 games of the regular season, scoring 44 total goals while allowing 40 which comes out to an average of about three per game on both sides of the puck. Ontario has been led by Alex Turcotte, who has a team-high 14 points on three goals and 11 assists. Charles Hudon is the top goal scorer among the group with seven tallies, while Turcotte and TJ Tynan are tied for the most helpers with 11 apiece. Tuesday’s contest is the second of eight scheduled matchups (four home, four away) between Ontario and Coachella Valley this season.

LAST TIME OUT: Erik Portillo stopped all 19 shots he faced to earn his first professional shutout in a 4-0 win for the Ontario Reign at Toyota Arena Sunday afternoon over the Calgary Wranglers, who entered the game with the AHL’s best record. Samuel Fagemo scored twice in the third period to seal the victory, while Mikhail Maltsev posted a goal and two assists and Alex Turcotte earned two helpers for Ontario in the win.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Ontario had a mostly even inaugural season series with the Firebirds last season, posting a record of 3-4-1 in eight outings, including a 2-2-0 mark in Palm Desert. The four games in the desert featured an even goal differential, with each club scoring on each other 14 times. The Reign scored eight times on the man-advantage against the Firebirds last season while Coachella Valley netted six power play goals. Captain TJ Tynan was the Reign’s top scorer in last season’s series, posting 10 points on a goal and nine assists. Martin Chromiak also found success against CV, netting a team-high five goals in the series. Ontario defeated the Firebirds 1-0 in their first meeting of 2023-24, with Kevin Connauton netting the lone goal of the contest and David Rittich stopping all 41 shots that came his way.

FIREY FAGEMO: Forward Samuel Fagemo has made a big impact since returning to the Reign before last Sunday’s win over Colorado, posting four points in his first three games with Ontario this season. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in all of those contests, scoring a goal in his first appearance before adding an assist on Friday and finding the back of the net twice in Sunday’s shutout victory. The attacker started the regular season with the Nashville Predators and netted a goal in four outings with the club but was placed on waivers and re-claimed by the LA Kings before being assigned to Ontario. In 154 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 98 points on 63 goals and 35 assists.

MAGIC MALTSEV: Forward Mikhail Maltsev had his highest output as a member of the Reign on Sunday, earning three points on a goal and two assists in the win over Calgary. Maltsev netted his fourth goal of the season early in the second period to open the scoring for Ontario and then posted assists on goals by Brandt Clarke and Samuel Fagemo that helped extend the Reign’s lead. Through 14 games this season, Maltsev has posted 11 points on four goals and seven assists.

SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: Coachella Valley is coming off a recent sweep of the Tucson Roadrunners, a team they’ve already played four times this season, on the road in Arizona last weekend with a 3-2 shootout win on Friday and a 5-4 regulation victory on Saturday. The Firebirds were one of only two teams that eclipsed the 100-point mark in the standings last season, finishing in second place in the AHL with a record of 48-17-5-2 on their way to an appearance in the Calder Cup Final. Forward Max McCormick, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago with 67 points in 71 games, is once again the highest-scoring skater on the club with 15 points in 13 games this season on seven goals and eight assists. Returners Kole Lind and Cameron Hughes are also off to fast starts with 12 points apiece, each with two goals and 10 assists. Netminder Chris Driedger has suited up in 10 games for Coachella Valley, earning a record of 6-4-0 with a goals-against average of 2.20 and a 0.915 save percentage.

CLARKE KEEPS IT CONSISTENT: Rookie defender Brandt Clarke was on the scoresheet for the sixth consecutive game Sunday, scoring a goal and an assist in Ontario’s 4-0 win. The blueliner has also been on the scoresheet in eight of his last nine outings and in seven consecutive home games at Toyota Arena. Clarke has four goals and nine assists on the season and is just one point behind team scoring leader Alex Turcotte. The Ottawa, Ont. native leads Ontario in power play scoring with five points (2-3=5. Through 14 games in 2023-24, Clarke has sent 52 shots on net, which ranks second-most in the AHL among defensemen. The Kings’ former first-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft is also second in the league in defensive scoring this year.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Coachella Valley (all times Pacific):
Wed., Oct. 25 at Coachella Valley, 1-0 W – Full Recap
Tue., Nov. 21 at Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 1 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 2 at Coachella Valley, 6:00 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 20 vs. Coachella Valley, 6:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 23 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 15 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Apr. 10 at Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.

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