WHO: Ontario Reign (13-6-1-1) vs. Bakersfield Condors (7-7-0-1)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME #22
WHEN: Friday, December 8 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: After a win in their first game of the week over Henderson on Wednesday, the Ontario Reign open a weekend home-and-home series with the Bakersfield Condors on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Ontario earned a 3-2 victory in the only previous meeting between the teams earlier this season on Oct. 21 in Bakersfield while playing in front of Erik Portillo in his first professional appearance.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign have won their last two games and entered the week coming off a split of a weekend series with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, posting a 4-3 overtime win Saturday after falling 2-0 at home last Friday evening. Ontario is currently holding second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 28 points from 21 games played. The Condors are currently in eighth place in the standings with a .500 points percentage, but the team has played only 15 games this season which is the lowest number in the AHL. With wins in seven of their last 10 outings, the Reign have been a tough team defensively, lowering their season goals-against average to 2.43 which ranks second-best in the league. Bakersfield has also been stingy on the defensive side of the puck, allowing just 2.87 goals per game which is 10th in the AHL. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently a tie between captain TJ Tynan and rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who have each posted 22 points in 21 games this season. Tynan’s assist total is second in the league, while Clarke is the highest-scoring defenseman in the AHL and is second in scoring among all league rookies. Alex Turcotte has also been a big factor for the Reign, scoring 19 points on five goals and 14 helpers.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign 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 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 man-advantage 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.
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 during 2022-23, the Reign managed a 4-3-1 record against the Condors, including a 3-1-0 mark at Toyota Arena. 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.
FAGEMO’S FLASHY RETURN: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 15 points in his first 10 games with Ontario on 10 goals and five assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in nine of his 10 AHL contests, scoring twice on three different occasions, and contributed to two power play goals in the team’s win over Henderson on Wednesday. The fourth-year forward leads the Reign in goal scoring despite playing in less than half of the team’s games. Six 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 161 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 109 points on 70 goals and 39 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 fourth-best in the league, while his 0.929 save percentage ranks third 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 CONDORS: Bakersfield has yet to see a skater reach double digits in scoring, but three forwards on the team’s active roster have each totaled nine points thus far, including their leading scorer from the past two campaigns, forward Seth Griffith. Griffith is back for year four in Bakersfield and is tied for the team lead with nine points on two goals and seven assists. The attacker finished with 80 points in 2021-22 and had 60 last year with 17 goals and 43 assists while playing in all 72 of the club’s regular season games. Raphael Lavoie has a team-high six goals in his first 10 contests, while Lane Pederson has posted five goals and four assists in 11 games. Defenseman Cam Dineen is an important piece on the blue line for the Condors, leading the club in defensive scoring with seven points in 15 games on four goals and three assists. Since their NHL affiliate, the Edmonton Oilers, shook things up and loaned former Reign netminder Jack Campbell to Bakersfield, the NHL veteran has appeared in seven games for the Condors, going 3-4-0.
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.
MALTSEV REASSIGNED: The LA Kings have reassigned forward Mikhail Maltsev to Spartak Moscow in the KHL. Maltsev has appeared in 21 games for Ontario this season, scoring 14 points on four goals and 10 assists. He is signed to a one-year NHL contract with the Kings for 2023-24.
2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Bakersfield (all times Pacific):
Sat., Oct. 21 at Bakersfield, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Fri., Dec. 8 vs. Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 9 at Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 21 vs. Bakersfield, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 16 at Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 24 vs. Bakersfield, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 30 vs. Bakersfield, 6:00 p.m.
Wed., Apr. 17 at Bakersfield, 6:30 p.m.