REIGN PREVIEW 3/20 – Ontario vs. Tucson

WHO: Ontario Reign (31-21-3-4) vs. Tucson Roadrunners (35-19-3-2)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 20 @ 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 complete their season series with the Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday night as they open up a three-game homestand this week at Toyota Arena. In teams’ seven previous meetings this season, Tucson has earned four wins, while Ontario has managed points in four outings with a record of 3-3-1-0.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: By earning wins from seven of their last 10 games, Ontario is currently holding fourth place in the Pacific Division with 69 points. Tucson has won its last four contests to move within five points of first-place Coachella Valley and is clinging to second place with a one point edge on Colorado. The Reign’s hot play over the last 12 games has seem them outscore opponents by a combined total of 39-24, allowing an average of just two goals per contest. Ontario now ranks fifth on the defensive side of the puck, allowing 2.71 goals per game on the year. Tucson is 11th in the league on the offensive end, scoring an average of 3.14 goals per night. The two clubs have similar penalty kill percentages this season, with Ontario killing 82.3% of opponents’ opportunities, while Tucson has discarded 83.1% of their penalty kills.

LAST TIME OUT: Former Reign goaltender Jack Campbell improved his record to 3-0-0 against his former team this season by stopping all 29 shots the Ontario Reign put on goal Saturday night to lead the Bakersfield Condors to a 4-0 win at Mechanics Bank Arena. Erik Portillo got the start for the Reign and made 30 saves in a losing effort, including multiple high-level stops during the first five minutes of the second period when the Condors had Ontario pinned in its own zone.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: A year ago Ontario got the better of Tucson, winning five of the eight matchups contested between the two clubs despite being outshot in the series. TJ Tynan led the Reign against the Roadrunners with 10 points on a goal and nine assists, while Tyler Madden also made an impact with six points in the series on three goals and three assists. The teams have been evenly matched through seven contests this season, with Ontario outscoring Tucson 26-18. The Reign have also been excellent on special teams in the series with a 28.1% power play conversion rate (9-for-32) and a 90% effectiveness on the penalty kill (18-for-20). Charles Hudon has totaled 11 points against the Roadrunners this year on two goals and nine assists, while Tynan has been a difference-maker once again with nine points (1-8=9) and Akil Thomas leads Ontario with five goals in the series.

FAGEMO’S GOAL SCORING CONTINUES: Samuel Fagemo, who earned his first-career AHL Player of the Week honor earlier this month, scored for the fourth time in his last five games on Friday against Coachella Valley, his eighth goal overall during March. Fagemo’s 36 tallies on the season are tied for the league lead along with Springfield’s Adam Gaudette, who has played in 13 more games than the Reign sniper. In his fourth season with the Reign, Fagemo now has 11 multi-goal games during 2023-24 and is also at the top of the league’s power play scoring leaders with 16 goals, the most by any Ontario skater in team history. He also has eight game-winning goals on the year, which are tied for the most of any AHL player. Fagemo has totaled a career-high 53 points this season which ranks tied for seventh-most in the AHL. In his four campaigns with the Reign, Fagemo has 147 points in 192 contests on 95 goals and 52 assists.

SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: Tucson comes into Wednesday’s game in control of second place in the division standings after posting a 6-2-1-1 record from its last 10 outings. They’re also the most penalized team in the Pacific Division with an average of more than 16 minutes per game. Forward Josh Doan is the team’s leading scorer with 44 points in 59 games played on 24 goals and 20 assists. His goal total also leads the club, while his assists are third-most on the roster. Aku Räty is second among Roadrunner skaters this season with 38 points on 13 goals and 25 assists, while Jan Jenik is not far behind with 33 points on 15 goals and 18 helpers. Defender Victor Soderstrom leads the team’s blueliners with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) while appearing in 50 contests. Former Reign netminder Matt Villalta has starred with his new team, playing in 42 of Tucson’s 59 games and earning 25 wins with a goals-against average of 2.66 and a save percentage at 0.909. His win total is second-most in the AHL. Villalta also made his NHL debut last month, appearing in two games with the Arizona Coyotes.

NOT SO TYPICAL TYNAN: Reign captain TJ Tynan added a goal and an assist in Friday’s shootout loss to the Firebirds and now has points in eight of his last 11 games, including three goals since the start of March. Tynan’s 45 assists leads all AHL skaters, while his 53 points are tied with teammate Samuel Fagemo for the team lead and rank seventh-best in the league. While the Orland Park, Ill. native has certainly been a big part of Ontario’s successful power play, Tynan has accounted for more even-strength scoring this season than in his first two years with the Reign. Only 16 of his 53 points have come via the man-advantage, with the center scoring two goals and 14 assists. In his first two seasons with Ontario Tynan scored half of his points via the power play, posting 49 of his team record 98 points on the man-advantage during 2021-22 and 40 of his 81 came when the team was up a man during 2022-23.

DELL HEATING UP: Veteran netminder Aaron Dell is unbeaten in regulation for the Reign in his last five starts, going 4-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and a 0.937 save percentage. While the goalkeeper has been at his best of late, he is still looking for his first win over Tucson this season, coming up short in each of his two appearances against the Roadrunners. Dell, 34, has previously appeared in 130 NHL games during his career in parts of eight seasons with the San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Tucson (all times Pacific):
Wed., Nov. 8 vs. Tucson, 3-4 OTL – Full Recap
Fri., Nov. 10 vs. Tucson, 2-1 W –
Full Recap
Tue., Nov. 28 vs. Tucson, 2-3 L –
Full Recap
Fri., Jan. 26 at Tucson, 5-1 W –
Full Recap
Sat., Jan. 27 at Tucson, 4-5 L – Full Recap
Fri., Feb. 16 at Tucson, 8-1 W – Full Recap
Sat., Feb. 17 at Tucson, 2-3 L – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 20 vs. Tucson, 7:00 p.m.

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