REIGN PREVIEW 1/17 – Ontario at Abbotsford

WHO: Ontario Reign (21-11-3-1) at Abbotsford Canucks (19-12-2-1)
WHEN: Wednesday, January 17 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Abbotsford Centre – Abbotsford, BC
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign conclude their time in Abbotsford during the 2023-24 regular season on Wednesday night when they wrap up a two-game series with the Canucks at the Abbotsford Centre. Ontario got its first win of the season in British Columbia on Tuesday with a 4-3 victory, bringing its overall record against the Canucks to 2-2-0 this season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Reign came into this week’s series having won two of their last three road games during a stretch of five straight away from the IE with victories in San Jose and Calgary on Jan. 9 and 12. Ontario is now in a second-place tie with Tucson in the Pacific Division standings, holding 46 points, and is just one point back of first-place Calgary. The Canucks are five points back of the Reign with two games in hand, currently holding fifth with 41 points. Ontario has been one of the best defensive teams in the AHL, allowing just 2.67 goals per game through its first 36 contests. Despite ranking 23rd defensively with an average of 3.21 goals allowed per night, Abbotsford is third-best on the offensive side of the puck, scoring just below 3.5 goals per game. The Canucks also average the fifth-most shots on goal per contest at 31.6.

LAST TIME OUT: 15 saves in the third period by Erik Portillo held the Abbotsford Canucks off the board late and gave the Ontario Reign a 4-3 road win on Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game series at the Abbotsford Centre. Andre Lee scored twice during a three-goal first for Ontario, while Alex Turcotte, who returned to the lineup for his first game of 2024, netted the game-winner on the power play in the third. Akil Thomas assisted on Turcotte’s deciding goal to extend his current point streak to six games.

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 teams find themselves even again after four games this season, each with 2-2-0 records. The Reign have found the back of the net three times on the power play, going 3-for-15 on the man-advantage while allowing four tallies to the Canucks on 16 opportunities. Abbotsford has outshot Ontario by a combined total of 149-110 through the first four matchups. Martin Chromiak (2-1=3) has scored in two of the contests and is tied with Charles Hudon (1-2=3) for the Reign scoring lead in the series, each posting three points.

KILLER INSTINCT: Forward Akil Thomas has continued to be one of Ontario’s best forwards over the past few weeks. With an assist in Tuesday’s win over Abbotsford, Thomas increased his season-high point streak to six games during which he’s racked up eight points on five goals and three helpers. If he can continue the run Wednesday, Thomas will tie his career-high set during his rookie season when he posted points in seven straight. With 25 points overall in 36 games, the Toronto native is also one point shy of his single-season career-high which was set with 11 goals and 15 helpers in 40 games during the 2021 campaign. Thomas had a goal in each of Ontario’s three consecutive wins over San Jose to begin 2024 before adding a power play assist Thursday, two goals Friday and another helper in Tuesday’s win. He has appeared in each of the Reign’s first 36 games this year and his 13 goals have already surpassed his previous career-high total of 11. In his pro career, the LA Kings’ former second-round pick in 2018 has appeared in 129 AHL contests with the Reign.

SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford earned a split from each of their last two series before this week’s showdown with Ontario, going 1-1-0 against both Coachella Valley and Tucson over the past two weeks. Forward Arshdeep Bains leads the team in scoring and was recently named to the AHL’s All-Star Classic event, earning over a point-per-game average through 32 contests on nine goals and 24 assists. Sheldon Dries and Linus Karlsson are just behind him, scoring 25 and 24 points respectively. Dries has a team-leading 13 goals and 12 assists in 27 games, while Karlsson has posted eight goals and 16 assists. Former Ontario defenseman Christian Wolanin leads the club’s blueliners with 22 points on three goals and 19 helpers. Returning goaltender Arturs Silovs has an 11-7-3 record in 22 appearances along with a 3.04 goals-against average and three shutouts. Rookie Nikita Tolopio has also played in 13 games, posting an 8-5-0 record and a 0.901 save percentage.

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 18 of the 22 games in which they’ve scored first, going 18-1-2-1 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 10-0-1 record, and the Reign are perfect when they’ve led after 40 minutes with a 17-0-0 mark.

FAGEMO RECALLED BY LA KINGS: The LA Kings recalled forward Samuel Fagemo from the Reign Tuesday morning, adding him to their roster before a contest in Dallas against the Stars. Fagemo, 23, had recorded a team-leading 20 goals and 33 points in 24 games with Ontario this season, including a league-high nine power-play goals. The 6-0, 200-pound forward collected points in 19 of his 24 games played with the Reign, including six multi-goal performances. Fagemo’s 20 goals were tied for second-most in scoring across the AHL while his 33 points ranked sixth and his 1.38 points-per-game average paced all active AHL skaters who have played a minimum of 20 games. The former second-round selection by the Kings in the 2019 NHL Draft, Fagemo has registered 127 points (80-47=127) in 175 career AHL games with Ontario. Since his AHL debut on Feb. 6, 2021, Fagemo’s 80 goals were tied for the most in the league during that span. He’s added four points (3-1=4) in 17 career NHL games between the Kings and Predators, including his first career NHL goal on Dec. 3, 2022, against Carolina.

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, 0-6 L –
Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 16 at Abbotsford, 4-3 W – Full Recap
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.

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