WHO: Ontario Reign (15-8-2-1) at Abbotsford Canucks (15-8-2-0)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME #27
WHEN: Thursday, December 21 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Abbotsford Centre – Abbotsford, BC
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: After coming up short in the series opener Wednesday, the Ontario Reign aim to get back in the win column on Thursday in Abbotsford against the Canucks. The two teams come into the contest with almost identical records in a tightly packed upper portion of the Pacific Division.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: As the Reign get ready for their final game before they hit the league’s holiday break, they are in the middle of a five-team group at the top of the Pacific Division standings that are separated by just three points. Ontario is currently holding second place with 33 points from 26 games played, sitting one behind first-place Calgary and one ahead of both Tucson and Abbotsford. Tonight’s matchup will be the third meeting of the season between the Reign and Canucks, who have split their first two contests. Both teams have excelled on the penalty kill this season, as Abbotsford ranks seventh in the league with a killing rate of 85.3% while Ontario is just behind them in 10th at 83.9%. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently held by rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who has points in six straight road games and 27 total on the year with five goals and 22 assists. TJ Tynan is just behind him with 26 points on five goals and 21 assists while suiting up for all 26 of Ontario’s games.
LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign battled back to erase a pair of deficits in the second period but came up short in the third on Wednesday night, falling on the road to the Abbotsford Canucks by a final score of 5-2 at the Abbotsford Centre. Forward Martin Chromiak factored in on both Reign goals, scoring the first and assisting on the second, a strike by Samuel Fagemo for his team-leading 12th goal of the season. Erik Portillo started his second straight game for Ontario, turning out 38 Abbotsford shots in a losing effort.
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. In two games this season, the Reign have found the back of the net twice on the power play, going 2-for-9 on the man-advantage while allowing three tallies to the Canucks on 11 opportunities. Abbotsford has outshot Ontario by a combined total of 71-55 through the first two matchups. Martin Chromiak has scored in each of the two games and leads the Reign with three points and a plus-2 rating in the series.
FAGEMO’S STAYS HOT: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 21 points in his first 15 games with Ontario on 12 goals and nine assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in 14 of his 15 AHL contests, scoring twice on three different occasions and contributing six multi-point games. The fourth year forward leads the team in goal scoring and is also tied for the most power play goals in the league with seven. 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 166 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 115 points on 72 goals and 43 assists.
SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford came into this week’s series 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 23 contests on four goals and 20 assists. Sheldon Dries and Linus Karlsson are just behind him, each with 22 points. Dries has a team-leading 12 goals and 10 assists in 24 games, while Karlsson has posted six goals and 16 assists. Former Ontario defenseman Christian Wolanin leads the club’s blueliners with 17 points on two goals and 15 helpers. Returning goaltender Arturs Silovs has a 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 11 games, posting a 7-4-0 record and a 0.905 save percentage.
PORTILLO CONTINUES TO STAND OUT: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo suffered just the second loss of his rookie season Wednesday but stopped 38 shots, the second-highest total he’s faced this year, to keep Ontario in the game throughout. Portillo’s record now stands at 8-2-0 after his first 10 starts. The netminder has allowed just 25 goals this season in 11 appearances for a goals-against average of 2.33. Both Portillo’s goals-against (6th) and 0.922 save percentage (5th) rank among the top of the league’s leaderboard 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 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.
POWER PLAYERS: With man-advantage goals in seven of their last eight 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 which saw Akil Thomas and Hayden Hodgson convert 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, 2-5 L – Full Recap
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.