REIGN PREVIEW 12/9 – Ontario at Bakersfield

WHO: Ontario Reign (13-7-1-1) at Bakersfield Condors (8-7-0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, December 9 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Mechanics Bank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign and Bakersfield Condors complete their weekend home-and-home series Saturday night by traveling north to Mechanics Bank Arena for their third meeting of the 2023-24 season. Bakersfield prevailed on Friday night at Toyota Arena, defeating the Reign by a 6-4 score.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign are looking to bounce back in the back half of a home-and-home for the second consecutive week after successfully defeating Coachella Valley when in the same situation on the road last Saturday. Ontario holds second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 28 points from 22 games played. The Condors are currently in eighth place in the standings with 17 points, but the team has played only 16 games this season which is the lowest number in the AHL. The Reign have been a tough team on the defensive side of the puck this season, but Friday night’s loss in which they allowed six goals bumped up their average goals allowed per game to 2.59, which is now tied for third in the league. Bakersfield has also been stingy on the defensive side of the puck, allowing just 2.94 goals per game which is 12th in the AHL. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently held by rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who has produced a pair of assists in three straight outings. Clarke has 24 points, while captain TJ Tynan has 23, sitting just behind the first-year blueliner.

LAST TIME OUT: The Bakersfield Condors scored three times in the first and added three more goals in the third to defeat the Ontario Reign Friday night at Toyota Arena by a 6-4 score. Ontario was led by Samuel Fagemo and Akil Thomas, who both posted a goal and an assist in a losing effort, while Brandt Clarke picked up a pair of assists.

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. It 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.

YOUR NIGHTLY DOSE OF FAGEMO FLAIR: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 17 points in his first 11 games with Ontario on 11 goals and six assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in 10 of his 11 AHL contests, scoring twice on three occasions and contributing with multiple points six times. The fourth-year forward leads the Reign in goal scoring and ranks fifth in the AHL despite playing in less than half of the team’s games. Seven of his goals have come via the power play which leads the league, 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 162 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 111 points on 71 goals and 40 assists.

CLARKE IN COMMAND: Rookie defenseman Brandt Clarke is continuing to turn heads and remain consistent on the offensive end for Ontario while appearing in all of the team’s first 22 games to begin the 2023-24 season. Clarke has secured two assists in each of his last three outings to take over the team’s scoring lead and move into fourth among all AHL skaters in overall scoring with 24 points on five goals and 19 helpers. His assist total is tied with Reign captain TJ Tynan for the team lead and also ranks as the third-most in the league. The Ottawa native has been on the scoresheet almost every night for Ontario, securing points in 14 of his last 16 games which makes him the top scorer among defensemen in the AHL and second in scoring among all league rookies. 11 of Clarke’s points have come on the power play this season which leads all Reign skaters and is the third-highest total in the AHL.

SCOUTING THE CONDORS: Bakersfield had a breakout game offensively on Friday, which saw Drake Caggiula post three points and move into a tie with forward Seth Griffith for the team scoring lead, each with 11 points on two goals and nine assists. Griffith is back for year four in Bakersfield. 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 seven goals in his first 11 contests, while Lane Pederson has posted five goals and five assists in 12 games. Defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer is leading the Condors in scoring from the blue line with eight points in 12 games on three goals and five 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 eight games for the Condors between the pipes, going 4-4-0.

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.

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, 4-6 L – Full Recap
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.

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