WHO: Ontario Reign (22-15-3-1) vs. Colorado Eagles (20-14-4-1)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR-SEASON GAME #42
WHEN: Tuesday, January 30 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign return home Tuesday night to face the Colorado Eagles for their final game of January. The contest opens up a three-game home stretch this week for the Reign leading into the AHL’s All-Star break.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is looking to keep pace in a tightly contested division race and stay ahead of the Eagles, who have won four straight contests. Colorado is three points back of the Reign for fifth in the standings, while Ontario remains a single point away from Calgary and Abbotsford who are tied for third. The Reign recently came away with a split from their first trip of the season to Tucson and two contentious meetings with the Roadrunners, winning 5-1 on Friday before a 5-4 defeat on Saturday. Before trekking to Toyota Arena Colorado managed a sweep of the Henderson Silver Knights, winning 3-2 in overtime on Friday and 4-3 in a shootout the following night. The Eagles are tied with Coachella Valley for the most shots on goal per game in the league this season, each with 34.1. Ontario is the eighth-best defensive team in the league, allowing 2.78 goals per game from its first 41 matchups.
LAST TIME OUT: Three late goals got the Ontario Reign within one shot of tying the game, but they were unable to overcome an early deficit and fell to the Tucson Roadrunners by a final score of 5-4 on Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center. Akil Thomas and Charles Hudon scored for the second straight game in a losing effort for Ontario, while Samuel Helenius netted two goals in a 30-second span during the third and Steven Santini posted his first multi-point effort of the season with a pair of assists.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign and Eagles had an even series during the 2022-23 regular season, with the teams evenly splitting their eight clashes 4-4-0, and 2-2-0 on each other’s home ice. Ontario outscored Colorado by the slimmest of margins, posting 25 goals while allowing 24. The Eagles earned wins from the first two clashes in this season’s series with identical 5-3 decisions in Loveland on the first weekend of November, but Ontario battled back the following week with a 4-2 win at Toyota Arena and evened the season series with a 5-4 shootout win in the most recent battle on Dec. 16. Ontario’s captain TJ Tynan led his team’s offense in last season’s series against his former team with 14 points, a goal and 13 assists. Tynan has racked up six assists for the Reign from the first four outings against Colorado this season, while another former Eagle, Charles Hudon, is leading the way with seven points on five goals and two assists. Colorado’s leading scorers Brad Hunt and Riley Tufte have also succeeded against Ontario, with Hunt scoring six points with a goal and five assists, while Tufte has five points on three goals and two helpers.
KILLER INSTINCT: Forward Akil Thomas has continued to be one of Ontario’s best forwards over the past month and comes into Tuesday’s game after a big weekend where he secured his sixth-career three point effort during Friday’s win with a goal and two assists before netting his 15th goal of the year on Saturday. The fourth-year forward also recently produced a season-high run of six straight games with a point and has racked up seven goals and six assists in his last 11 outings overall. With 30 points in 41 games this year, the Toronto native has set a new single-season career-high in goals, overall scoring and games played. His next assist will also surpass his previous career-best of 15. In total, the LA Kings’ former second-round pick in 2018 has suited up in 134 AHL contests with the Reign during his pro career.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Riley Tufte is the top-scoring forward on the Eagles this season, leading the team with 13 goals in 34 games. But defenseman Brad Hunt has the same amount of points as Tufte, each with 27. Hunt has a team-high 15 assists in 39 games during his second season in Colorado. Forwards Cedric Pare and Ben Meyers are tied for third among active skaters on the team with 19 points apiece, while defender Jack Ahcan also has 19 points on three goals and 16 helpers. Returning goaltender Justus Annunen has been a standout performer in his first 21 appearances for a goals-against average of 2.66, securing 12 of the team’s 20 wins. Trent Miner has also made an impact with a 2.51 goals-against average and a 0.913 save percentage in 11 games for the Eagles this season.
CHROMIAK CUES THE HATS: Martin Chromiak secured his second-career hat trick in Friday’s win over Tucson, scoring goals in each period to help Ontario secure a win. Two of the Illava, Slovakia native’s tallies came via the power play, and he also added a third period assist on a man-advantage strike by Charles Hudon to record the four-point effort of his career. Chromiak’s second hat trick came just after the anniversary of his first, which he produced back on Jan. 21, 2023, in Ontario against Coachella Valley. The points gave the 21-year-old an even 20 for the season on 11 goals and nine assists.
ROAD KILLERS: The Reign have allowed just seven power play goals on the road this season and bumped up their league-leading success rate last weekend by discarding all four of Tucson’s man-advantages. Ontario has given up the lowest number of road power play goals in the league this year (7) for a 90.5% killing rate away from home that leads the AHL. Overall, the Reign rank 11th in the league when down a man, killing 83.0% of the 141 times they’ve been shorthanded.
2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Colorado (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 3 at Colorado, 3-5 L – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 4 at Colorado, 3-5 L – Full Recap
Sun., Nov. 12 vs. Colorado, 4-2 W – Full Recap
Sat., Dec. 16 vs. Colorado, 5-4 W (SO) – Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 30 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 2 vs. Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 20 at Colorado, 6:05 p.m.
Sun., Apr. 21 at Colorado, 2:05 p.m.