REIGN PREVIEW 3/13 – Ontario at San Diego

WHO: Ontario Reign (31-19-3-3) at San Diego Gulls (20-25-8-0)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 13 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Pechanga Arena – San Diego, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Fresh off a road sweep of the Calgary Wranglers earlier this week, the Ontario Reign are set for a SoCal Series matchup in San Diego against the Gulls on Wednesday night inside Pechanga Arena. Tonight’s game will be the final time the Reign visit San Diego during the regular season and serves as the penultimate matchup of their head-to-head series, with the final installment coming at Toyota Arena on April 12.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario’s current winning streak of eight games is tied for the longest run in the club’s AHL history. They’re also unbeaten in regulation in their last nine straight dating back to Feb. 21, which has propelled the team up the Pacific Division standings. While they currently sit in fourth with 68 points, a win on Wednesday would vault the Reign past Tucson and Colorado and into second. During their current winning streak, Ontario has outscored opponents by a combined total of 34-12, earning five of their eight victories at home inside Toyota Arena. San Diego sits in ninth place in the 10-team table with 48 points, 16 back of the cut line for the final spot in the postseason. The Reign now rank fourth in the AHL on the defensive side of the puck, allowing 2.68 goals per game. San Diego has found success on the power play by scoring on 20% of their opportunities this season. Ontario also has the third-best power play percentage in the league this season by scoring on 21.5% of its man-advantage opportunities.

LAST TIME OUT: The Ontario Reign skated to a 6-2 victory against the Calgary Wranglers on Monday night, claiming a sweep of a two-game series at the Scotiabank Saddledome and tying an AHL club record with their eighth straight win. Steven Santini scored twice for Ontario in the contest and added an assist to secure his second three-point effort of the year. Other offensive standouts for the Reign included Kevin Connauton, Charles Hudon and Tyler Madden, who each recorded a goal and an assist and goaltender Aaron Dell posted his fourth straight victory by making 31 saves.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Ontario was at its best against San Diego last season, earning a record of 6-1-1 from eight matchups against one of their SoCal rivals while securing 13 of a possible 16 points in the standings. In the first six meetings this season things have been much more even, with each team taking three matchups apiece. The Reign suffered back-to-back losses to open the year before earning a 3-2 win in the third matchup and coming up short in overtime by a 4-3 final on Dec. 28. Most recently, Ontario went into San Diego and secured a 3-2 win on Feb. 24 before Aaron Dell posted a 3-0 shutout performance with 24 saves on the first night of March. Ontario has outshot the Gulls by a combined margin of 196-181 in the six contests and earned an average of close to five power play opportunities per game, with 28 total in the series from which they’ve scored seven times (25%). Charles Hudon and Joe Hicketts lead the Reign in the six previous meetings with seven points apiece. Hudon has totaled seven points on two goals and five assists, while Hicketts has registered seven assists.

FAGEMO EARNS PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: The AHL announced Monday that Samuel Fagemo has been selected as the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week after scoring five goals and six total points in two outings for Ontario during the past five days. Fagemo netted game-winning goals in both of those contests, with three points (2-1=3) on Wednesday against Abbotsford and a hat trick on Sunday in Calgary. The attacker now has 11 multi-goal games during 2023-24 and owns a share of the AHL lead with 34 goals in just 38 games for Ontario. His 16 power play goals, the most by any Ontario skater in team history, lead the league this season, while Fagemo’s eight game-winning goals are also tied for the most of any AHL player. Fagemo has also totaled a career-high 51 points this season which rank seventh-most in the AHL. In his four seasons with the Reign, Fagemo has 145 points in 189 contests on 94 goals and 51 assists.

SCOUTING THE GULLS: Forward Andrew Agozzino leads San Diego in scoring with 42 points on 14 goals and 28 assists while suiting up in all 53 of their games this season. Glenn Gawdin has found the back of the net 17 times, while Pavol Regenda had tallied 16 goals before being recalled by the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Gawdin has posted 41 total points, which is second-most on the club, and captain Chase De Leo has tallied 31 points on 11 goals and 20 helpers. Veteran blueliner Trevor Carrick is the active leading scorer among the team’s defensemen, accounting for 32 points (6-26=32). Goaltender Tomas Suchanek has been solid in net since joining the club, posting a 12-5-3 record in 20 appearances with a 2.53 goals-against average and a 0.921 save percentage. Calle Clang has also been in goal for 23 games and has a 7-11-4 record.

PORTILLO PROVIDING PATIENCE IN NET: Rookie goaltender Erik Portillo has continued to impress this season and has allowed just eight goals in his past six starts against Tucson, Abbotsford, San Diego, San Jose and Calgary. In 29 games this season, Portillo has allowed only 66 tallies for a goals-against average of 2.33 while accounting for a 0.925 save percentage and two shutouts. His save percentage ranks second among qualified netminders this season, while his goals-against number is seventh in the league.

HUDON LENDS A HELPING HAND: Forward Charles Hudon has hit his stride during the last month, racking up 15 points from his previous 12 games on four goals and 11 assists. The Alma, Que. native posted helpers on two of Ontario’s goals in Sunday’s win in Calgary, earning a second assist on Samuel Fagemo’s opening power play goal as well as the primary assist on Taylor Ward’s second period strike. He followed that up with a goal and an assist on Monday, helping the Reign complete a sweep of the Wranglers. Hudon also has three other multi-point games during his recent hot stretch including back-to-back two-assist performances in Tucson Feb. 16-17 and a three-assist night in a win over San Diego on Mar. 1. Overall, Hudon has totaled 48 points from 51 games this season on 19 goals and 29 assists. His 29 helpers are the second-most during his seven-season AHL career, trailing only his rookie campaign when he racked up 38 with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. San Diego (all times Pacific):
Fri., Oct. 13 vs. San Diego, 1-4 L – Full Recap
Sun., Oct. 15 vs. San Diego, 4-6 L – Full Recap
Fri., Oct. 20 at San Diego, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Thu., Dec. 28 at San Diego, 3-4 L – Full Recap
Sat., Feb. 24 at San Diego, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Fri., Mar. 1 vs. San Diego, 3-0 W – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 13 at San Diego, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Apr. 12 vs. San Diego, 7:00 p.m.

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