2/27 REIGN FINAL – Reign 8, Barracuda 2 – Sturm, Fagemo, Hicketts, Pavlychev

The Ontario Reign (26-19-3-3) scored early and often on their way to a third straight win Tuesday night over the San Jose Barracuda (17-26-8-1) by a final score of 8-2 at Toyota Arena. Samuel Fagemo led the way, posted a career-high five points in the contest with his second hat trick of the season against San Jose along with a pair of assists.

Other offensive standouts for Ontario included TJ Tynan, who added three assists, as well as Joe Hicketts and Nikita Pavlychev, who each had a goal and an assist. Goaltender Erik Portillo turned out 38 shots, including 19 in the third period, to earn the victory and improve to 15-8-3 on the year.


Ontario’s eight-goal output matched its highest offensive total of the season and was the best scoring night in front of their home fans this season.

Pavlychev opened the scoring at 2:13, netting his first AHL goal of the year off a pass from Samuel Helenius to beat goaltender Georgi Romanov with a wrist shot to the top left corner.

Francesco Pinelli then made it 2-0 in favor of the Reign at 7:48 of the opening frame with his sixth goal of the season, which bounced in off his skate on a shot-pass by Martin Chromiak. Defender Kevin Connauton was credited with the second assist on the goal.

In the final minute of the period, Fagemo found the back of the net for his first of the night, scooping up a loose puck in the neutral zone before beating Romanov on the short side to extend the lead to 3-0 at 19:10.

Although the Reign emerged from the first intermission with a three-goal lead, it was a short-lived advantage. The Barracuda made a change in net, replacing Romanov with Magnus Chrona prior to the start of the middle frame.

San Jose’s Jack Studnicka scored twice in the first 5:15 of the second to get the Barracuda back in the game. Studnicka’s first tally came at 2:43, while his second was on the man-advantage to make it a 3-2 score.

But after the game remained close for a nine-minute span, Ontario got the next goal to go back up by two and never looked backed. That fourth tally of the night came off the stick of Hicketts, his first as a member of the Reign during the 2023-24 season. Pavlychev worked the puck loose in front after an initial look by Taylor Ward and left it off to Hicketts behind the net. The defender quickly recognized he had space and converted on a wraparound attempt to put Ontario up 4-2 at 14:11 of the second.

Before the end of the period, Fagemo and Charles Hudon added on to the lead, each scoring goals on the power play. Fagemo’s second of the contest came at 18:26 from Tynan and Akil Thomas, while Hudon’s 18th of the year was a wrist shot from the right circle with helpers by Hicketts and Fagemo.

During a power play opportunity midway through the third, San Jose pulled Chrona in a desperation attempt to get back into the game. But Connauton made them pay for that decision, scoring his second goal of the season with a long-range shot from just in front of Ontario’s blue line at 9:17. Assists on the play were credited to both Tynan and Fagemo.

Fagemo completed the hat trick at 14:27, scoring on a feed from Tynan to post his 11th goal of the season and 16th point against San Jose. The tally was his 28th of the season overall, which is second-most in the AHL. Chromiak also added a second assist on the play, his second helper of the night.

The Barracuda held a 40-31 edge in shots on goal in the game, with Ontario going 2-for-7 on the power play while holding San Jose to a 1-for-5 night on the man-advantage. Chrona finished with 18 saves and Romanov stopped four shots during the first period in a losing effort.

Postgame thoughts from Reign head coach Marco Sturm as well as Fagemo, Hicketts and Pavlychev are below.

Marco Sturm
On tonight’s game and strong response after conceding twice
We were very lucky, let’s be honest. We took advantage of the opportunities but it was definitely not our best. Unfortunately, it carried over to the second period a little bit. As soon as we scored that fourth, I think that was a key for us. It seemed like it was a bit of a wake-up call. [After that goal] we played in their zone more and we were a little more aggressive. We wanted to stay on top of their defense and Hicketts scored the goal, so that means our defense was getting involved too. I thought that was a huge goal for us today.

On Nikita Pavlychev’s strong performance with the third line
We called him up for a couple reasons. First of all, we needed somebody on the faceoff and also on the PK, so I think in both of those areas he does a really good job. Him and Ward and Helenius have slowly found the identity of who they are lately. They gave us really good minutes.

On the team’s defensive play the last few games
First of all, it’s our track coming back. That’s something we addressed. That’s something we worked on and that automatically helps our defense. We had given up way too many rushes-against and goals-against, and I think we really cut that down. Our D-zone play has actually been okay. It was the long game that was kind of hurting us and as soon as we fixed that, it was a totally different game. I think that’s been the key, and also the penalty kill. I know we got scored on today but overall, we’ve definitely done a better job on the PK.

On Samuel Fagemo’s second hat trick against San Jose
As a player, there’s always some teams you feel good against, and automatically when you go into those games you feel better already without even touching the ice. I think that’s something that happens to Sammy. Some teams will do a good job and take him away, especially on the power play, and today they didn’t. He’s a guy who will make you pay with his shot he has from that spot. It’s tough to defend. I was happy he got the hat trick. There aren’t too many guys who can do that and we’re lucky to have him.

On winning three straight games
We want to stay on top of it. The next game is against another team behind us and that means its definitely a game we have to win again. Then we’ll take it day-by-day. It definitely feels good and we’re going to enjoy tonight and we’re going to get back at it and try to get that train going.

Samuel Fagemo
On tonight’s 8-2 win
I felt the game started slow but then we just kept on going, being patient, and getting more shots to the net. It was such a fun night.

On recording 11 goals and 16 points against San Jose
That’s a crazy stat. I’m just trying to focus on getting pucks to the net. I shoot a lot. That’s my role here on this team. It’s just been special.

On starting a four-game home stand with a win
That’s huge for us. I think the biggest thing is to be more consistent and that’s a great thing for us to have. Thank you to the home fans for the support too.

Joe Hicketts

Nikita Pavlychev

Ontario is back at home at Toyota Arena on Friday night for another SoCal Series matchup with the San Diego Gulls beginning at 7 p.m.

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