REIGN PREVIEW 3/3 – Ontario vs. Abbotsford

WHO: Ontario Reign (27-19-3-3) vs. Abbotsford Canucks (28-18-4-2)
WHEN: Sunday, March 3 @ 5:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign aim for their fifth straight win on Sunday when they host the Abbotsford Canucks for the third time this season at Toyota Arena. The matchup features two teams separated by just two points in the Pacific Division standings with Ontario trailing the Canucks, who have sole possession of fourth place.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: During its current four-game run, the Reign have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 16-5, earning three of their victories at home in Ontario. Both teams are part of a group of five Pacific Division clubs that are separated by just They’re part of a group of five teams that are separated by just six points in the standings, led by Tucson in third with 64, along with Calgary (60) and Bakersfield (58). The Reign rank sixth in the AHL on the defensive side of the puck, allowing 2.75 goals per game. Abbotsford is a top 10 offensive team in the league, averaging 3.21 goals per outing which is eighth-best in the AHL. Ontario has continued its recent success on the power play, scoring twice on the man-advantage in Friday’s win over San Diego to move into fifth in the league’s man-advantage rankings by scoring on 21.2% of opportunities this season.

LAST TIME OUT: Aaron Dell made saves on all 24 shots that came his way to earn his first shutout as a member of the Ontario Reign in a 3-0 win over the San Diego Gulls on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Two of Ontario’s goals came on the power play during the second period on shots by Samuel Fagemo and TJ Tynan, while Charles Hudon earned assists on all three of the team’s tallies in the victory.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign have a record of 2-3-1 against the Canucks this season after finishing with an even series against their divisional opponents from north of the border during 2022-23 when they earned a 4-3-1 outcome from eight contests. Ontario was 3-1-0 against Abbotsford inside Toyota Arena last year and went 1-2-1 in four road contests at the Abbotsford Centre. This season, the Reign have found the back of the net three times on the power play, going 3-for-22 on the man-advantage while allowing five tallies to the Canucks on 24 opportunities. Abbotsford has outshot Ontario by a combined total of 210-167 through the first six matchups. Martin Chromiak (2-1=3) and Tyler Madden (2-1=3) have each scored in two of the contests and trail Charles Hudon (1-3=4) by a point for the Reign scoring lead in the series.

FAGEMO FIRING AWAY: Forward Samuel Fagemo was at his best Tuesday night, scoring a career-high five points with three goals and two assists during Ontario’s eight-goal outburst victory over San Jose. Fagemo has dominated against the Barracuda all season, totaling 11 goals and 16 points from six contests. He followed up that performance by netting his league-leading 14th power play goal in a win over San Diego on Friday and now ranks second in the AHL with 29 overall tallies this season, just two behind Springfield’s Adam Gaudette in 14 less games. He also has 44 overall points, which have tied his previous career high set during the 2021-22 season and are 13th-most in the league.

SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford comes into Sunday’s game on the heels of a 4-2 win in Bakersfield over the Condors Saturday evening. They also claimed the most recent matchup against Ontario with a 2-1 decision in a shootout on Feb. 21. Forward Arshdeep Bains has returned from his recent call-up to Vancouver and is tied for the team lead in scoring with Linus Karlsson, each totaling 40 points. Karlsson has earned 14 goals and 26 assists, while Bains has piled up nine goals and a club-best 31 assists. Sheldon Dries has the highest goal total among the group with 18 tallies this year. Defenseman Jett Woo is the highest scoring active blueliner with 19 points on five goals and 14 helpers. Returning goaltender Arturs Silovs has a 14-10-6 record in 31 appearances along with a 2.85 goals-against average and three shutouts. Rookie Nikita Tolopio has also played in 22 games, posting a 14-8-0 record and a 0.910 save percentage.

HICKETTS RETURNS WITH A HELPING HAND: Defender Joe Hicketts was welcomed back into the lineup earlier this month in Tucson, his first game action since suffering an injury Oct. 25 in Coachella Valley. The blueliner from Kamloops, B.C. made an immediate impact, finishing his first weekend with two assists and a plus-3 rating. Hicketts then followed that up with another helper last Wednesday against Abbotsford before earning the primary assist on a late tying goal by Samuel Fagemo last Friday. The following night he posted a pair of helpers on goals by Fagemo and Martin Chromiak in San Diego before scoring his first goal with the Reign on Tuesday in an 8-2 defeat of San Jose, then added a pair of helpers in Friday night’s victory over the Gulls. In just 12 total games this season, Hicketts has racked up 13 points on a goal and 12 assists along with a plus-11 rating.

PORTILLO PROVIDING PATIENCE IN NET: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo has continued to impress this season and has allowed just six goals in his past four starts against Tucson, Abbotsford, San Diego and San Jose. In 27 games this season, Portillo has allowed only 64 tallies for a goals-against average of 2.43 while accounting for a 0.923 save percentage and two shutouts. His save percentage ranks fifth among qualified netminders this season, while his goals-against number is 12th in the league.

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, 1-2 L –
Full Recap
Wed., Feb. 21 vs. Abbotsford, 1-2 SOL – Full Recap
Sun., Mar. 3 vs. Abbotsford, 3:00 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 6 vs. Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.

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