REIGN PREVIEW 12/13 – Ontario vs. Henderson

WHO: Ontario Reign (14-7-1-1) vs. Henderson Silver Knights (11-10-1-2)
WHEN: Wednesday, December 13 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: For the second consecutive week, the Ontario Reign host the Henderson Silver Knights in a Wednesday evening clash at Toyota Arena. Last week’s meeting saw the Reign come away with a 3-1 decision thanks to a pair of power play goals by Samuel Fagemo and Charles Hudon.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign have won each of their first two matchups of the season against Henderson, claiming a 4-1 victory at the Dollar Loan Center on Oct. 27 before taking two points from the second meeting in Ontario last week. Ontario is currently holding second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 30 points from 23 games played. The Silver Knights are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the standings with 25 points. The Reign have been a tough team on the defensive side of the puck this season allowing just 2.52 goals per game which is second-best in the league. Henderson has been at its best in the third period and currently holds a +6-goal differential in the final frame this season, outscoring opponents 25-19. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently held by rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who has produced assists in four straight games. Clarke has 25 points, while captain TJ Tynan has 24, sitting just behind the first-year blueliner.

LAST TIME OUT: Two goals in 26 seconds during the second period were enough for the Ontario Reign to defeat the Bakersfield Condors 2-1 on Saturday in the second night of a back-to-back series between the two teams at Mechanics Bank Arena. Ontario’s tallies were scored by Charles Hudon, who found the back of the net for the third straight game, and Francesco Pinelli. Goaltender Erik Portillo made the start in net for the Reign and earned his seventh victory in eight starts this season by stopping 22 shots while lowering his goals-against average to 1.96 which is third in the AHL.

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 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 FLAIR CONTINUES: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 18 points in his first 12 games with Ontario on 11 goals and seven assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in 11 of his 12 AHL contests, scoring twice on three occasions and contributing six multi-point games. The fourth-year forward leads the Reign in goal scoring and is tied for seventh 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 163 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 112 points on 71 goals and 41 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 the team’s first 23 games to begin the 2023-24 season. Clarke has secured seven assists in his last four outings to take over the team’s scoring lead and move into a tie for third among all AHL skaters in overall scoring with 25 points on five goals and 20 helpers. His assist total is tied with Reign captain TJ Tynan for the team lead which ranks as the third-most in the league. The Ottawa native has been on the scoresheet almost every night for Ontario, securing points in 15 of his last 17 games, making him the top scorer among defensemen in the AHL and second in scoring among all league rookies. 12 of Clarke’s points have come on the power play this season which is also tied for the league lead.

SCOUTING THE SILVER KNIGHTS: Henderson comes into Wednesday’s game after a recent split of a two-game road series in San Jose last weekend, falling 6-1 on Friday before earning a 5-1 bounce-back victory on Saturday. Despite a fast start 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 with an average of 2.92 goals per game. Forward Grigori Denisenko leads the club this season with 22 points on nine goals and 13 assists while appearing in each of the team’s 24 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 17 points on 10 goals and seven helpers. Second-year attacker Brendan Brisson is also picking up steam and has posted 18 points on an even nine goals and nine assists, while veteran Adam Cracknell registered a hat trick on Saturday in San Jose and has 19 points on 11 goals and eight helpers. 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.

PORTILLO CONTINUES TO STAND OUT: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo improved his record to 7-1-0 from his first eight professional starts with another victory on Saturday, his second of the year at Bakersfield’s Mechanics Bank Arena. The netminder has allowed just 17 goals this season in nine appearances, an average of less than two per game. Both Portillo’s 1.96 goals-against average and 0.931 save percentage rank third-best in the AHL this season. The 6-foot-6 native of Goteborg, Sweden was acquired by the LA Kings in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres last March before 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.

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, 3-1 W – Full Recap
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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