REIGN PREVIEW 12/28 – Ontario at San Diego

WHO: Ontario Reign (15-9-2-1) at San Diego Gulls (8-14-5-0)
WHEN: Thursday, December 28 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Pechanga Arena – San Diego, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign return form the AHL’s holiday break with a matchup in San Diego against the Gulls on Thursday night at Pechanga Arena. Thursday’s game is the first matchup between the two SoCal rivals since they began the regular season with three straight meetings.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: As the Reign resume their schedule after having a week off, they sit in the middle of a tightly contested upper half of the Pacific Division that contains six teams separated by just six points. Ontario is currently holding fourth place with 33 points from 27 games played, sitting one behind third-place Abbotsford and one ahead of Coachella Valley. Tonight’s matchup will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Reign and Gulls, who last contested a game on Oct. 20. San Diego got the best of Ontario in the first two outings to begin the 2023-24 season at Toyota Arena before the Reign spoiled the Gulls’ home opener. The Reign have multiple players vying for the team’s scoring lead, which is currently held by rookie defender Brandt Clarke, who has 27 points 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 27 of Ontario’s games.

LAST TIME OUT: The Abbotsford Canucks used a dominating second period to earn a decisive decision over the Ontario Reign Thursday night by a score of 6-0 in front of their home fans at the Abbotsford Centre. Arturs Silovs stopped all 34 shots the Reign sent on goal to record his second shutout of the season, while six different skaters scored goals for the Canucks and Abbotsford defender Cole McWard registered three assists.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Ontario was at its best against San Diego last season, earning a record of 6-1-1 from eight matchups against one of their SoCal rivals while securing 13 of a possible 16 points in the standings. In the first three meetings this season the Reign’s fortunes changed, suffering back-to-back losses to open the year before earning a 3-2 win in the third outing. Ontario outshot the Gulls by a combined margin of 112-92 in the three contests, despite losing two. They also earned an average of six power play opportunities per game, with 18 total in the series. The Reign scored four man-advantage goals but allowed five to San Diego on nine chances. Charles Hudon led the Reign in those three early-season matchups against the Gulls with three points on a goal and two assists.

FAGEMO’S FEROCIOUS RETURN: Forward Samuel Fagemo has dominated since returning to the Reign lineup last month, posting 21 points in his first 16 games with Ontario on 12 goals and nine assists. Fagemo has been on the scoresheet in 14 of his 16 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 167 career AHL games with Ontario, Fagemo has 115 points on 72 goals and 43 assists.

SCOUTING THE GULLS: San Diego has pulled themselves into a more competitive spot in the division after struggling during November. Although they are at the bottom of the Pacific standings coming into Thursday’s game, they are just one point back of San Jose and three behind Bakersfield. The Gulls come into tonight’s game after losing to Coachella Valley by a 3-1 score on Wednesday. Forward Andrew Agozzino leads the team in scoring with 21 points on seven goals and 14 assists while suiting up in all 27 of their games. Pavol Regenda has found the back of the net a team-high 10 times, while Jacob Perreault has posted 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists. Rookie blueliner Olen Zellweger is the team’s top-scoring defender with 20 points in 26 games on five goals and 15 assists, while veteran Trevor Carrick is just behind him with 19 points (5-14=19). Goaltender Tomas Suchanek has been solid in net since joining the club, posting a 4-2-1 record in seven appearances with a 2.14 goals-against average and 0.930 save percentage. Calle Clang has also been in goal for 14 games and has a 3-7-3 record.

HUDON’S HELPING HAND: Forward Charles Hudon has provided an important offensive presence for Ontario this season, scoring 20 points in his first 23 outings with the club since signing a two-year contract in early July. The veteran recently surpassed the 400-game mark for his AHL career, which has spanned eight seasons and four organizations. Hudon has posted 328 points for six different teams on 172 goals and 156 assists in addition to 134 appearances at the NHL level with Montreal and Colorado where he has 14 goals and 41 points. Prior to Ontario’s most recent two contests in Abbotsford, Hudon had been on a season-high six game point streak that spanned from Dec. 2 until Dec. 16 and consisted of seven points on four goals and three assists.

POWER PLAYERS: With man-advantage goals in seven of their last nine games, the Reign have improved their season-long power play percentage to 19.2%, which ranks 13th 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 Dec. 16 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. San Diego (all times Pacific):
Fri., Oct. 13 vs. San Diego, 1-4 L – Full Recap
Sun., Oct. 15 vs. San Diego, 4-6 L –
Full Recap
Fri., Oct. 20 at San Diego, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Thu., Dec. 28 at San Diego, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 24 at San Diego, 6:00 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 1 vs. San Diego, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 13 at San Diego, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Apr. 12 vs. San Diego, 7:00 p.m.

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