REIGN PREVIEW 12/6 – Ontario vs. Henderson

WHO: Ontario Reign (12-6-1-1) vs. Henderson Silver Knights (10-8-1-2)
WHEN: Wednesday, December 6 @ 7:00 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 set to host the Henderson Silver Knights for the first time during the 2023-24 in a midweek matchup Wednesday night at Toyota Arena. Ontario skated to a 4-1 victory in the only previous meeting between the teams earlier this season Oct. 27 in Henderson, playing one of their most complete games of the year thus far.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign are coming off a weekend split of a two-game series with their newest rival, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, earning a 4-3 overtime win Saturday after falling 2-0 at home on Friday evening. Ontario is currently holding third place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 26 points from 20 games played. The Silver Knights, who got off to a hot start in October, have fallen back to the middle of the pack in the standings and currently rank fifth in the division with 23 points from 21 contests. With wins in seven of their last 10 outings, the Reign have been a tough team defensively, lowering their season goals-against average to 2.50 which ranks second in the league. Henderson has been at their best in the third period and currently holds a +9 goal differential in the final frame this season, outscoring opponents 24-15. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently held by captain TJ Tynan (3-19=22), who is fourth in the league with 22 points. Just behind him is defender Brandt Clarke, who leads all AHL defenders with 20 points on five goals and 15 assists, and Alex Turcotte who has 18 points on five goals and 13 helpers.

LAST TIME OUT: Martin Chromiak gave the Ontario Reign their first overtime win of the season and a split of the weekend home-and-home series with the Coachella Valley Firebirds on a 4-3 decision Saturday night at Acrisure Arena. The Reign had to come from behind in the third and did so on a game-tying strike by Tyler Madden with less than four minutes remaining in regulation. Samuel Fagemo and Alex Turcotte also added tallies in the victory, while goaltender Erik Portillo made 29 saves to earn his sixth win of the season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: While it was a season full of struggles for Henderson a year ago which didn’t include any playoff competition, the Reign and Silver Knights had a mostly even eight-game season series. Ontario posted a record of 4-4-0 in the matchups, which like this season included four at each team’s venue, and each resulted in 2-2-0 splits. The Reign scored 11 times on the man-advantage against the Silver Knights last season, more than against any of their other opponents, for a conversion rate of 36.7%. Ontario also fared well on the penalty kill, discarding 23 of Henderson’s 27 opportunities. Captain TJ Tynan was the Reign’s top scorer in last season’s series, posting seven points on a goal and six assists in the eight meetings. Tyler Madden also found success against the Silver Knights, scoring a team-high five goals in the series along with an assist for six points.

FAGEMO’S FLASHY RETURN: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 13 points in his first nine games with Ontario on nine goals and four assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in eight of his nine AHL contests, scoring twice on three different occasions, and added the opening tally of the game in the team’s win at Coachella Valley on Saturday. The fourth-year forward leads the Reign in goal-scoring despite playing in less than half of the team’s games. Five of his goals have come via the power play, while three have ended up as game-winners. A native of Goteborg, Sweden, Fagemo started the regular season with the Nashville Predators and earned a goal in four appearances but was placed on waivers and re-claimed by the LA Kings on Nov. 11 before being assigned to Ontario. In 160 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 107 points on 69 goals and 38 assists.

PORTILLO CONTINUES TO STAND OUT: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo improved his record to 6-1-0 from his first seven professional starts with another victory on Saturday, his first appearance against Coachella Valley. The netminder stopped 29 shots in the win and has allowed just 16 goals this season in eight appearances, an average of two per game. Portillo’s goals-against average of 2.09 is fifth-best in the league, while his 0.929 save percentage ranks fourth in the AHL. The 6-foot-6 native of Goteborg, Sweden was acquired by the LA Kings in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres last March prior to the end of his final collegiate season at the University of Michigan where he went 25-11-2 in 38 appearances with a 0.908 save percentage.

SCOUTING THE SILVER KNIGHTS: Henderson comes into Wednesday’s game after recently being swept at home by the Calgary Wranglers, the top team in the Pacific, by scores of 2-1 on Friday and 7-4 on Sunday. Despite a fast start offensively which saw them averaging over four goals per game, the Silver Knights have come back down to earth offensively and are around the middle of the pack of the league offensively with an average of exactly three goals per game. Forward Grigori Denisenko leads the club this season with 21 points on nine goals and 12 assists while appearing in each of the team’s 21 games. Former Reign forward Sheldon Rempal is back with the Silver Knights for 2023-24 and is once again a big part of the offense with 16 points on nine goals and seven helpers. Second-year attacker Brendan Brisson is also picking up steam and has posted 16 points on an even eight goals and eight assists. Returning goaltender Jiri Patera had started 14 games for the club before a recent recall by Vegas which has left Jordan Papirny and rookie Jesper Vikman as the remaining options in net. Vikman is 3-0-0 in his first four appearances with a 2.53 goals-against average.

GETTING OUT IN FRONT: The Reign have had success when scoring first this season, picking up points from 12 of the 13 games when they’ve found the back of the net before their opponent. 11 of the team’s 12 wins have come from games when they’ve scored first, which is the third-most in the league this season behind Hershey and Syracuse who have each won 12 times when scoring the opening goal. When Ontario has earned the opening goal of the game, its points percentage is an outstanding 0.885.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Henderson (all times Pacific):
Fri., Oct. 27 at Henderson, 4-1 W – Full Recap
Wed., Dec. 6 vs. Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 13 vs. Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 30 at Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 31 vs. Henderson, 5:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 9 vs. Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Apr. 3 at Henderson, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 13 at Henderson, 7:00 p.m.

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