REIGN PREVIEW 2/3 – Ontario vs. Calgary

WHO: Ontario Reign (22-17-3-1) vs. Calgary Wranglers (23-14-3-1)
WHEN: Saturday, February 3 @ 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 play their final game before the AHL’s All-Star break Saturday night when they host the Calgary Wranglers at Toyota Arena.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Both teams enter the contest on a slide, with the Wranglers coming off a sweep at the hands of the Coachella Valley Firebirds while the Reign have dropped three consecutive games. The Wranglers are in third place in the Pacific Division standings with 50 points from 41 games and Ontario remains two points back of them, currently in sixth place with 48 points. Calgary is one of the top defensive teams in the league, allowing just 2.78 goals per game which ranks fifth in the AHL. Ontario has been best in the second period of games, outscoring opponents 49-43 in the middle frame this season.

LAST TIME OUT: Led by two goals from Callahan Burke in the second period, the Colorado Eagles skated to a second straight defeat of the Ontario Reign by a final score of 5-2 on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Brandt Clarke, who played in his first game with Ontario since a recall in early January, scored his eighth goal of the season in the second period, while forward Colton Young netted his first AHL tally in the third period.

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 and then split with the Wranglers north of the border last month. 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%). 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, but the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player bounced back during the two-game series in January to lower his goals-against average against the Reign to 2.73 on the season. Samuel Fagemo leads Ontario with five points in the series on four goals and one assist.

KILLER INSTINCT: Forward Akil Thomas has continued to be one of Ontario’s best forwards over the past month and comes into Saturday’s game with seven goals and seven assists in his last 13 games. Although he wasn’t on the scoresheet Friday which snapped a four-game point streak, he has set new single season career-highs in goals (15), assists (16), overall scoring (31) and games played (43) this season. In total, the LA Kings’ former second round pick in 2018 has suited up in 136 AHL contests with the Reign during his pro career.

SCOUTING THE WRANGLERS: Rookie Forward Matt Coronado, who will represent Calgary at the AHL’s All-Star Classic this week, leads the Wranglers with 31 points in 29 games this season on 12 goals and 19 assists. Coronado’s goal total is second on the team behind forward Ben Jones, who has 13 tallies. Forward Emilio Pettersen is second in scoring with 27 points and a club-high 20 assists, while Jones has 26 points in 41 games. Defender Jonathan Aspirot paces the blueliners with 16 points on three goals and 13 assists while fellow d-man Brady Lyle has 14 points on six goals and eight assists. Goaltender Dustin Wolf has been excellent as always, going 17-7-2 in 27 games with a 0.926 save percentage.

HELENIUS AIMS HIGH: Samuel Helenius is on the best offensive run of his pro career thus far, scoring three times in Ontario’s last three games. Helenius recorded a pair of goals just 30 seconds apart from each other during the third period of Saturday’s game in Tucson before returning home Tuesday to score his eighth tally of the year late in the second period against Colorado. With 12 points in 41 games this season on eight goals and four assists, Helenius is two away from his rookie season scoring output during 2022-23 when he totaled 14 points on two goals and 12 assists in 61 contests. The forward from Jarvenpaa, Finland has appeared in 114 games in his AHL career with Ontario after being selected by the LA Kings in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

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 have killed 81.6% of the 145 times they’ve been shorthanded.

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, 2-3 L –
Full Recap
Fri., Jan. 12 at Calgary, 2-1 W – Full Recap
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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