REIGN PREVIEW 1/6 – Ontario vs. San Jose

WHO: Ontario Reign (17-10-3-1) vs. San Jose Barracuda (11-15-4-0)
WHEN: Saturday, January 6 @ 6:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign and San Jose Barracuda meet for the second time in as many days on Saturday at Toyota Arena to contest the second of their three consecutive matchups this week. The Reign prevailed 2-0 in Friday’s outing, the first between the teams to be held in Ontario this season. Before this weekend’s matchups, the Reign swept the only previous meetings between the two clubs with 3-0 and 4-2 wins in San Jose during Thanksgiving Weekend on Nov. 24-25.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Although San Jose had a top-10 ranked offense coming into the weekend, Ontario held the Barracuda off the scoreboard with a shutout performance by Erik Portillo on Friday. SJ is now 11th in the AHL, averaging 3.23 goals per game this season. Ontario’s standout defense on the other hand is now tied for fourth in the league, allowing an average of just 2.71 goals per night. The Reign are in the middle of a tightly-contested top-half of the Pacific Division with 38 points, currently holding third place while trailing second-place Tucson by just two points. San Jose has struggled through the first half of the year, earning 26 points from 30 games which has them sitting in ninth among the 10-team table.

LAST TIME OUT: Erik Portillo stopped all 25 shots he faced to record his second-career shutout and lead the Ontario Reign to a 2-0 win over the San Jose Barracuda on Friday night at Toyota Arena. The Reign scored both of their goals via special teams in the second period, with Akil Thomas netting a power play goal and Taylor Ward recording the team’s second shorthanded goal of the year. Ontario also held their opponent scoreless on the power play for the fourth consecutive game.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign picked up points in five of their contests against San Jose last season, finishing with a 3-3-1-1 record against the Barracuda and an even number of goals for and goals against, scoring and allowing 25 in the series. Ontario was 2-2-0 at home inside Toyota Arena and posted a 1-1-1-1 record in four contests during the inaugural season of Tech CU Arena. The Reign scored six times on the man-advantage against the Barracuda last season while San Jose netted four power play goals. Ontario was led by TJ Tynan, who had seven points in the eight matchups between the two teams. Tyler Madden scored six times in the series to lead Ontario, while Taylor Ward and Jacob Moverare both accounted for six points on two goals and four assists. This season through three contests, Akil Thomas has five points on two goals and three helpers to lead the Reign. Samuel Fagemo had a team-high four points on three goals and an assist in the first two outings in San Jose.

MAKING THE MO’ST OF IT: Defenseman Jacob Moverare has been a welcome addition to the lineup for the Reign since returning from a call-up to the LA Kings that lasted for most of December. Since he rejoined Ontario’s lineup on Dec. 28, the blueliner has posted assists in three of his four appearances, totaling four helpers and a plus-7 rating with eight shots on goal. Moverare saw time in five contests with the Kings during his recall, his first NHL games since the 2022-23 campaign. Overall with the Reign this season, the Ostersund, Sweden native has nine assists in 20 appearances after playing in 62 games a year ago and scoring 26 points on four goals and 22 assists.

SCOUTING THE BARRACUDA: San Jose came into this weekend’s series after splitting a home-and-home series with Bakersfield last weekend and defeating Tucson at home Wednesday night by a 6-4 score. The Barracuda were the first team out of the postseason in the pacific last spring with an eighth-place finish and haven’t been able to improve their fortunes thus far this season as they currently sit in ninth place with 26 points. Forward Danil Gushchin, who posted 45 points as a rookie last year, leads the team this season with 28 points in 29 games on 11 goals and 17 assists. Cole Cassels has pitched in with 22 points on four goals and 18 assists, while Nathan Todd has 20 points on seven goals and 13 helpers. Defender Leon Gawanke leads the team’s blueliners with 25 on seven goals and 18 assists. Goaltender Magnus Chrona has led the way in net with 13 appearances and holds a 0.898 save percentage, while Eetu Makiniemi has seen action in nine contests and has a 4-4-0 record with one shutout.

STAYING THE COURSE: The Reign have played well with leads this season, posting lopsided winning records in all games where they’ve had an advantage. Ontario has won 14 of the 18 games in which they’ve scored first, going 14-1-2-1 to secure a point in all but one contest when they’ve had the initial lead. When they’ve gone into the first intermission with a lead on the scoreboard, Ontario has a 7-0-1 record, and the Reign are perfect when they’ve led after 40 minutes with a perfect 14-0-0 mark.

PENALTY KILL BACK ON TRACK: The Reign have successfully held their opponent off the scoreboard on the power play for four consecutive outings since they returned from the league’s holiday break. They first denied San Diego on the man-advantage last Thursday, ending a run of four games in which they had surrendered a man-advantage goal. Then followed that success up in the weekend home-and-home series with Henderson, discarding all three of the Silver Knights’ chances on both Saturday and Sunday before another 3-for-3 performance in Friday’s win. Ontario’s season-long penalty kill percentage is now at 85% which ranks sixth among the 32 AHL teams, but they’ve been much better on the kill when they’re away from home. In 15 road contests, the Reign have only allowed six power play goals from the 53 times they’ve been shorthanded, a successful killing rate of 88.7% which is second-best in the league. Three of those goals were recently given up in Abbotsford before they got to the holiday break.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. San Jose (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 24 at San Jose, 3-0 W – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 25 at San Jose, 4-2 W – Full Recap
Fri., Jan. 5 vs. San Jose, 2-0 W – Full Recap

Sat., Jan. 6 vs. San Jose, 6:00 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 9 at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 27 vs. San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 27 at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 6 vs. San Jose, 6:00 p.m.

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