WHO: Ontario Reign (15-7-2-1) at Abbotsford Canucks (14-8-2-0)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME #26
WHEN: Wednesday, December 20 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Abbotsford Centre – Abbotsford, BC
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign make their first trip of the season north of the border to begin a two-game series with the Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday night. The contest will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams and the first since an Oct. 29 meeting in Ontario that saw the Reign earn a 5-3 victory.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is currently holding second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 33 points from 25 games played. The Reign have been a tough team on the defensive side of the puck this season allowing just 2.60 goals per game which is tied for second-best in the league. Abbotsford comes into the series in a tie with Tucson for third place in the standings, three points back of Ontario with a game in hand. The Canucks have an identical 7-4-1 record both at home and on the road this season and rank fifth in the league on the penalty kill, discarding 85.6% of opponents’ power play opportunities. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead and currently have a tie at the top between captain TJ Tynan and rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who have each posted 26 points on five goals and 21 assists while suiting up for all 25 of Ontario’s games.
LAST TIME OUT: Samuel Helenius scored the opening goal to trigger the Teddy Bear Toss and the Ontario Reign saw their shooters go a perfect 3-for-3 in a shootout to produce a 5-4 win over the Colorado Eagles on Saturday night at Toyota Arena. Charles Hudon posted his fourth multi-point night against his former team for Ontario in the win with a goal and an assist, while Hayden Hodgson scored his first goal as a member of the Reign and Akil Thomas netted a goal in both the first period and the shootout.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign and Canucks had an even series during 2022-23, with Ontario earning a record of 4-3-1 in the eight contests. Ontario was 3-1-0 inside Toyota Arena and went 1-2-1 in four road contests at the Abbotsford Centre. The Reign scored eight times on the man-advantage against the Canucks last season for a conversion rate of 25%, but they were even better on the penalty kill by successfully fending off 14 of their 15 advantages (93.3%). Captain TJ Tynan was the Reign’s top scorer in last season’s series, posting nine points that included a four-point outburst on opening night when he earned a goal and three assists.
FAGEMO’S STAYS HOT: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 20 points in his first 14 games with Ontario on 11 goals and nine assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in 13 of his 14 AHL contests, scoring twice on three occasions and contributing six multi-point games. The fourth-year forward is tied with Charles Hudon for the team lead in goal scoring and is also tied for the league’s lead with seven power play goals. 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 165 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 114 points on 71 goals and 43 assists.
SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford comes into this week’s games after posting a split from a two-game series last weekend in Tucson against the Roadrunners where they were shut out 5-0 on Friday before earning a 6-2 win on Saturday night. Forward Arshdeep Bains leads the team in scoring with a point-per-game average from the team’s 22 contests on three goals and 19 assists. Sheldon Dries is just behind him with 21 points from 23 games on a team-leading 12 goals and nine assists, while Linus Karlsson has totaled 20 points on six goals and 14 assists. Former Ontario defenseman Christian Wolanin leads the club’s blueliners with 16 points on two goals and 14 helpers. Returning goaltender Arturs Silovs has an 8-4-2 record in 15 appearances along with a 2.80 goals-against average and two shutouts. Rookie Nikita Tolopio has also played in 10 games, posting a 6-4-0 record and a 0.904 save percentage.
PORTILLO CONTINUES TO STAND OUT: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo improved his record to 8-1-0 from his first nine professional starts with another victory on Saturday, his third straight win. The netminder has allowed just 21 goals this season in 10 appearances for a goals-against average of 2.15. Both Portillo’s goals-against and 0.924 save percentage rank in the top-5 of AHL netminders 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.
POWER PLAYERS: With man-advantage goals in six of their last seven games, the Reign have improved their season-long power play percentage to 20%, which ranks 11th overall among the 32 AHL franchises. Ontario has scored twice with an extra man during three of those recent contests, including the team’s most recent win over Colorado on Saturday, when Akil Thomas and Hayden Hodgson converted on the man-advantage. Defenseman Brandt Clarke is the club’s leading scorer on the power play this season, posting 12 points on two goals and 10 assists. Forward Samuel Fagemo has racked up seven man-advantage goals and is second with 11 power play points, while Charles Hudon has nine points on five goals and four assists.
2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Abbotsford (all times Pacific):
Sun., Oct. 29 vs. Abbotsford, 5-3 W – Full Recap
Wed., Dec. 20 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Thu., Dec. 21 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 16 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 17 at Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 21 vs. Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 3 vs. Abbotsford, 3:00 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 6 vs. Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.