REIGN PREVIEW 3/6 – Ontario vs. Abbotsford

WHO: Ontario Reign (28-19-3-3) vs. Abbotsford Canucks (28-19-4-2)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 6 @ 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 go up against the Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday night at Toyota Arena in search of their longest winning streak of the 2023-24 campaign. A victory would also give Ontario possession of fourth place in the standings and a sweep of their final two contests against the Canucks this season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: During their current five-game run, the Reign have outscored opponents by a combined total of 18-6, earning four of their victories at home in Ontario. Both Ontario and Abbotsford are part of a group of five Pacific Division clubs that are separated by just seven points in the standings, led by Tucson in third with 65, along with Calgary (64) and Bakersfield (58). The Reign rank fifth in the AHL on the defensive side of the puck, allowing 2.72 goals per game. Abbotsford is a top 10 offensive team in the league, averaging 3.17 goals per outing which is eighth-best in the AHL. Ontario also has the fourth-best power play percentage in the league this season by scoring on 21% of its man-advantage opportunities. The Canucks on the other hand have one of the best penalty killing units, ranking second in the AHL by discarding 84.9% of opponents power play chances.

LAST TIME OUT: Luke Rowe’s first AHL goal came at the perfect time for the Ontario Reign, who used two third period tallies to come from behind and defeat the Abbotsford Canucks by a 2-1 score Sunday night at Toyota Arena. Rowe’s strike came with 2:25 remaining in the third period to win the game for Ontario in his second professional contest, while the Reign’s first goal came off the stick of Francesco Pinelli midway through the final period to pull the team even.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign have a record of 3-3-1 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-24 on the man-advantage while allowing five tallies to the Canucks on 26 opportunities. Abbotsford has outshot Ontario by a combined total of 228-202 through the first seven 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.

HICKETTS’ HOT HAND: Defender Joe Hicketts was welcomed back into the lineup last month after missing 40 games due to an injury suffered on Oct. 25 in Coachella Valley. The blueliner has made a giant impact on both ends of the ice since re-entering the lineup, scoring 12 points in eight games on a goal and 11 assists while posting a plus-9 rating. After being held off the scoresheet in his return on Feb. 16, Hicketts has earned points in seven straight including four consecutive multi-point contests. Most recently, the Kamloops, B.C. native had a pair of helpers on goals by Samuel Fagemo and Martin Chromiak in San Diego on Feb. 24 before scoring his first goal with the Reign last Tuesday in an 8-2 defeat of San Jose, and then added a pair of helpers in both Friday night’s shutout victory over the Gulls and Sunday’s defeat of Abbotsford. In just 13 total games this season, Hicketts has racked up 15 points on a goal and 14 assists along with a plus-12 rating.

SCOUTING THE CANUCKS: Abbotsford came into this week’s pair of matchups in Ontario on the heels of a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors Saturday evening. Forward Arshdeep Bains recently returned from his first career 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 19 tallies this year, including a shorthanded strike in Sunday’s loss to the Reign. Defenseman Jett Woo is the highest scoring active blueliner with 20 points on five goals and 15 helpers. Returning goaltender Arturs Silovs has a 14-11-6 record in 32 appearances along with a 2.82 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.

PORTILLO PROVIDING PATIENCE IN NET: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo has continued to impress this season and has allowed just seven goals in his past five starts against Tucson, Abbotsford, San Diego and San Jose. In 28 games this season, Portillo has allowed only 65 tallies for a goals-against average of 2.38 while accounting for a 0.923 save percentage and two shutouts. His save percentage ranks tied for fourth among qualified netminders this season, while his goals-against number is 10th in the league.

ROWE TO THE RESCUE: Defenseman Luke Rowe has given Ontario a boost on the team’s back end over the past week, playing heavy minutes alongside Joe Hicketts since turning pro and signing his first contract with the Reign on February 27. Rowe made his debut in a 3-0 shutout win over San Diego on Friday night and then sent his new fans home happy when he scored his first goal to win Sunday’s game against Abbotsford. Rowe finished with a plus-2 rating while playing alongside Hicketts on Sunday with five shots on net. The 25-year-old totaled 29 points during 35 games with Air Force in the NCAA earlier this season on six goals and 23 assists. At the time of his signing, his point total ranked ninth in the country among defenders, while his assist number was 10th. The Succasunna, N.J. native appeared in 125 career games with Air Force during four seasons from 2019-2024, totaling 74 points on 21 goals and 53 assists while spending his last three campaigns as the team’s captain.

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, 2-1 W –
Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 6 vs. Abbotsford, 7:00 p.m.

Rules for Blog Commenting

  • No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other comments, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • Please do not discuss, or post links to websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.

Repeated violations of the blog rules will result in site bans, commensurate with the nature and number of offenses.

Please flag any comments that violate the site rules for moderation. For immediate problems regarding problematic posts, please email