REIGN PREVIEW 1/11 – Ontario at Calgary

WHO: Ontario Reign (19-10-3-1) at Calgary Wranglers (21-9-3-0)
WHEN: Thursday, January 11 @ 6:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, AB
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign make their return to Canada this week for four contests north of the border beginning Thursday in Calgary against the Wranglers. Ontario will look to continue its strong start against the Pacific Division’s top team after taking three points from Calgary from the clubs’ first two meetings in November. The Reign are coming off three consecutive wins over the San Jose Barracuda in the last six days, moving into a tie for second place and trailing the Wranglers by just three points.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Wranglers boast the top defense in the Western Conference, allowing an average of just 2.58 goals from their first 33 outings this season. However, the Wranglers allow the fourth-most shots per game in the league, surrendering 32.4 on average. Ontario’s defense is no slouch either, ranking fifth at 2.70 goals per game with only four more given up than Calgary in the same number of outings. The teams are also similarly matched up on offense, with the Wranglers scoring an average of 3.18 goals per night, while the Reign have posted 3.09. Calgary has made its living in the second period this season, outscoring opponents by a 39-25 margin.

LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign got an early goal from Samuel Fagemo and led throughout in a 4-1 defeat of the San Jose Barracuda Tuesday night at Tech CU Arena to secure their third straight victory in five days over their division foe from Northern California. Fagemo added an assist and later scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to finish with a three-point night and earn the game’s first star. Charles Hudon also found the back of the net on the power play, while Akil Thomas scored shorthanded. Erik Portillo stopped 36 of 37 shots in goal to earn the 10th win of his rookie season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Although the Reign struggled against the Wranglers during 2022-23 when Calgary ended with the best regular season record in the league (51-17-3-1, 106 points), Ontario managed to claim three points from its first two-game series of the year against Calgary in November. The Wranglers won seven of the eight matchups during 2022-23 while doubling Ontario’s goal total (28-14). Calgary scored eight times on the man-advantage in the series, while the Reign managed four power play goals from 31 opportunities (12.9%). TJ Tynan (1-5=6) was just behind Lias Andersson (6-1=7) as Ontario’s scoring leaders against the Wranglers a year ago. Goaltender Dustin Wolf was 7-0-1 against the Reign while playing every minute of action in the series with a save percentage of 0.945. Ontario managed seven goals against Wolf in the first two matchups at Toyota Arena this season which gave him a 3.39 goals-against average.

FAGEMO PILING UP POINTS: Forward Samuel Fagemo followed up his first-career four-point game Saturday with another three points on Tuesday in San Jose, continuing his dominance for Ontario this season. While Saturday’s performance included a hat trick, Tuesday’s outing included two goals and an assist. Fagemo has been scoring at the best rate of his pro career, posting 31 points in 22 games with Ontario on 18 goals and 13 assists. The attacker has been on the scoresheet in 18 of his appearances, scoring multiple goals on five different occasions and contributing nine multi-point games. The fourth-year forward leads the team in goal scoring and is fourth in the AHL, in addition to ranking second in the league with seven power play goals. He’s just one point away from the scoring total he had during 2022-23 when he played 56 contests with the Reign. 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 173 career AHL games with the Reign, Fagemo has 125 points on 78 goals and 47 assists.

SCOUTING THE WRANGLERS: Rookie Forward Matt Coronado, who was recently named to the AHL All-Star Classic roster on Wednesday, leads the Wranglers with 28 points in 25 games this season on 12 goals and 16 assists. Coronado’s goal total is tops on the team, while forward Emilio Pettersen is second on the team in scoring with 26 points and a club-high 19 assists. Ben Jones has also chipped in with 23 points in 33 games on 11 goals and 12 helpers. Defender Jonathan Aspirot paces the blueliners with 13 points on two goals and 11 assists while fellow d-man Brady Lyle has 12 points on five goals and seven assists. While goaltender Dustin Wolf has been excellent as always, going 15-5-1 in 21 games with a 0.930 save percentage, Oscar Dansk has also been great in between the pipes with a 2.47 goals-against average and a 0.922 save percentage in 12 appearances.

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 16 of the 20 games in which they’ve scored first, going 16-1-2-1 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 9-0-1 record, and the Reign are perfect when they’ve led after 40 minutes with a 16-0-0 mark.

KILLER INSTINCT: Forward Akil Thomas is on one of the best runs of his career, scoring a goal in each of Ontario’s three consecutive wins over San Jose in the last week. The fourth-year attacker has racked up seven points from his last five games, including a season-high three-point effort in the Reign’s 7-1 win at Henderson on Dec. 30. Thomas had a goal and an assist on Friday in Ontario before scoring on the power play in Saturday’s win and netting a shorthanded goal on Tuesday in San Jose. The Toronto native has appeared in each of the Reign’s first 33 games this year, tying his career-high with 11 goals. Thomas’ 21 points are five back of his best number as a pro when he finished his rookie season in 2021 with 26 in 40 contests. The LA Kings’ former second round pick in 2018 has appeared in 126 AHL contests with the Reign in his pro career.

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 five of his six appearances, totaling seven helpers and a plus-9 rating with 10 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 12 assists in 22 appearances after playing in 62 games a year ago and scoring 26 points on four goals and 22 assists.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Calgary (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 17 vs. Calgary, 4-5 L (SO) – Full Recap
Sun., Nov. 19 vs. Calgary, 4-0 W – Full Recap
Thu., Jan. 11 at Calgary, 6 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 12 at Calgary, 6 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 3 vs. Calgary, 6 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 10 at Calgary, 5 p.m.
Mon., Mar. 11 at Calgary, 6 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 22 vs. Calgary, 7 p.m.

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