The Ontario Reign (13-6-1-1) got power play goals from Charles Hudon and Samuel Fagemo along with 21 saves by goaltender David Rittich on their way to a 3-1 win over the Henderson Silver Knights (10-9-1-2) on Wednesday night at Toyota Arena.
Akil Thomas also found the back of the net for the Reign, producing a goal and an assist in the contest, while defender Brandt Clarke earned helpers on both of Ontario’s power play goals. The Reign improved to 7-2-0-1 in their past 10 contests and jumped into second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 28 points in the standings.
Ontario also had a perfect night on the penalty kill in the victory, holding the Silver Knights to an 0-for-4 mark on the man-advantage.
Henderson netted their lone goal of the game at 3:53 of the first period to take an early lead, with Jakub Brabenec making it 1-0 for the visitors.
The Reign evened things up late in the opening frame on Hudon’s eighth goal of the season which came during Ontario’s second power play opportunity at 14:55. Assists on the goal, scored on a blast from the right circle, went to Clarke and Fagemo.
Thomas put the Reign in front for the first time at 6:05 of the second period by scoring his fifth tally of the year on a shot from the high slot. Alex Turcotte set up the play by finding Thomas with a pass from his knees while he was along the wall and Cole Krygier picked up the second assist on the 2-1 strike.
Then Fagemo extended the advantage to 3-1 with Ontario’s second power play goal of the game at 14:13 of the middle period. The tally was set up by Clarke and Thomas, giving all three players that factored into the goal multi-point nights. For Fagemo, the goal was his team-leading 10th of the season in just 10 AHL games with the Reign.
Rittich locked things down in the Reign crease for the final 40 minutes, stopping 10 shots in the second period and turning out six attempts in the third for his seventh win of the season.
Ontario finished 2-for-5 on the power play, netting a man-advantage goal in three of their past four outings. Jordan Papirny suffered the loss in goal for Henderson, making 18 saves for the Silver Knights.
Postgame thoughts from head coach Marco Sturm, Hudon and defender Cody Haiskanen, who appeared in his first career AHL game for the Reign, are below.
On the power play and penalty kill taking over the game
I always say it’s a big part of our game. Offensively, on the power play, we’ve got some good weapons on both units. That’s why we want to be there and in that situation. On the PK, for a long time now, we’ve been very, very good. That sets the tone for our time.
On using a different formation for the first power play goal
It’s just the way we always look at the opponent and the way they played. They’re very deep and they’re very tight, so we used our flanks to shoot pucks and hopefully get some rebounds. The two goals were scored and went straight in. There are two good shooters and we want to use them as much as we can.
On Cody Haiskanen’s AHL debut
He was good. We don’t call him Cody anymore. We call him Miro now, like Miro Heiskanen. I think we got the right one today because I think Dallas lost today. He was great. We didn’t know anything about him. He’s a smart kid. He’s a good kid. Right away, the guys liked him. He had a good practice yesterday and made no mistakes today, so good for him. There wouldn’t be a better partner than Kevin [Connauton], and not just on the ice but off the ice too. Kevin is always a guy who supports whoever he’s going to play with and a lot of times he plays with the young kids, and he did it again today. You want to make sure [Haiskanen] feels comfortable right away. You don’t want to make him nervous. It always helps when, not just your teammates, but your partner always has your back. That’s what Kevin does.
On Hayden Hodgson’s return to the lineup
He was good. He’s another guy who was out for a long time and it’s not easy for him either. I thought he had good jump and a lot of energy. He had lots of good checks. Now we’ve just got to give him some time, but that’s the position we’re in right now. We’re working on Samuel Helenius this week, getting him in the gym and getting him a little bit stronger. It’s not easy for me, but it’s a good thing. It’s a healthy thing, and everyone should be ready to go and give everything every game.
Ontario returns to action on Friday night when they host the Bakersfield Condors at Toyota Arena in the first game of a home-and-home weekend series beginning at 7 p.m.