REIGN PREVIEW 4/6 – Ontario vs. San Jose

WHO: Ontario Reign (37-21-3-4) vs. San Jose Barracuda (21-33-9-3)
WHEN: Saturday, April 6 @ 6:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Ontario Reign are looking to strengthen their hold on their second place standing in the Pacific Division Saturday night when they welcome the San Jose Barracuda to Toyota Arena for the final time during the 2023-24 season. The Reign have been playing their best hockey of late, winning six straight contests, the longest current run in the AHL.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario is aiming to keep up their success at home, where they’ve won five straight games and have earned points from 12 consecutive contests dating back to Feb. 9. In their last 17 games, Ontario has claimed 14 wins for a record of 14-2-0-1. During that span, they’ve outscored opponents by a combined score of 60-36, allowing an average of just two goals per game which has improved their season-long defense ranking to fifth in the league. The Reign hold a two-point edge on the Tucson Roadrunners and Colorado Eagles, who are tied in third place, and a three-point lead on Calgary and Abbotsford. All 10 Pacific Division teams are in action on Saturday night. San Jose is 16th in the league offensively with an average of 3.06 goals per game but ranks last on defense with 240 tallies allowed this year which is the most of any AHL club.

LAST TIME OUT: Samuel Fagemo scored twice in his return to the lineup, including the overtime winner, to give the Ontario Reign their sixth straight victory by a 5-4 score over the Henderson Silver Knights on Wednesday night at Lee’s Family Forum. With his two tallies that bookended Ontario’s scoring, Fagemo leaped back into the AHL’s top spot this season with 39 goals on the year. Reign captain TJ Tynan had assists on both of Fagemo’s goals as part of a three-assist night which has him as the league’s leader with 51 helpers. The win gave Ontario sole possession of second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division with 81 points.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign have wins in all seven of the matchups between them and the Barracuda so far this season, including two shutout performances. Ontario swept the first two meetings in San Jose with 3-0 and 4-2 wins at Tech CU Arena during Thanksgiving Weekend and won three more in a five-day span during the beginning of January with 2-0 and 5-4 triumphs at home before a 4-1 road victory on Jan. 9. The Reign secured two points in lopsided fashion with an 8-2 win in the last meeting at Toyota Arena on Feb. 27 and defeated the Barracuda 3-2 last week in the most recent matchup on Mar. 27. Ontario picked up points in five of their contests against San Jose during 2022-23, finishing with a 3-3-1-1 record against the Barracuda in a series that had an even number of goals for and goals against, 25 or each club. TJ Tynan led the way last season with seven points in the eight matchups between the two teams. This year Samuel Fagemo has dominated the series, scoring 16 points on 11 goals and five assists including two hat tricks. Akil Thomas has also been a standout for Ontario this season with nine points on five goals and four helpers.

DRIVING OPPONENTS MAD: Reign forward Tyler Madden has recorded points in six straight games, which have all resulted in wins for Ontario. Madden’s longest point streak of the season has consisted of two goals and five assists, which increased his over season scoring total to 30 points on 14 tallies and 16 helpers. While the forward’s goal number is down from the 20 he finished with last season, his assist total is up, already surpassing his 13 from a year ago. The fourth-year attacker has been a model of consistency over the past two campaigns, missing just a single game. This season’s point total of 30 has him just three behind his career-high of 33 that was set with the Reign last season. Madden’s next goal will be the 50th of his AHL career and he’s also just one point away from 100 with Ontario, where he’s played all 198 of his professional games.

SCOUTING THE BARRACUDA: San Jose comes into Saturday’s matchup on the heels of a 3-1 loss to Coachella Valley on Thursday. The Barracuda’s season will end without a playoff berth for the third consecutive year, with the team currently occupying the bottom position in the Pacific Division. Forward Nathan Todd leads the team with 51 points in 65 games this season on 18 goals and 33 assists. Danil Gushchin is second in scoring with 47 points on 16 goals and 31 helpers, while Cole Cassels has earned 44 points on 10 goals and 34 assists. Rookie Ethan Cardwell has also chipped in with a team-high 21 goals. Defender Shakir Mukhamadullin, one of San Jose’s top prospects on the blueline, has 34 points on seven goals and 27 assists. Goaltenders Magnus Chrona and Georgi Romanov have appeared in 28 and 27 contests, respectively, and have each played over 1,400 minutes in the crease for the Barracuda, while Eetu Makiniemi has also suited up for 18 games and has a 0.900 save percentage.

TYNAN LEADING THE WAY: Reign captain TJ Tynan posted three assists on Wednesday night in Henderson to extend his league lead in the category and has now totaled 51 helpers in 65 games this season. Tynan also reached the 60-point mark on the year for the fifth time in his professional career. The 10th-year forward is tied for fourth in the AHL in overall scoring and has had six games with three or more assists this season. Tynan now ranks 55th all-time in league scoring with 587 points in 635 games played.

LEE RETURNS WITH A BANG: Forward Andre Lee posted two points last Saturday in his first action in two months since sustaining an injury on Jan. 27. The Karlstad, Sweden native tied the game at 2-2 late in the second period before assisting on a go-ahead tally by Nikita Pavlychev at 2:56 of the third. He then followed that up with a second period power play goal in a win over Henderson on Wednesday night for his sixth goal of the season. While Lee has only recorded 10 points in 29 games this year, the attacker has scored in bunches, recording three multi-point games. He previously scored twice in his season-debut against Calgary on Nov. 17 and on the road in Abbotsford Jan. 16. Despite his limited action, Lee has set a new career-high in scoring with six goals and four helpers.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. San Jose (all times Pacific):
Fri., Nov. 24 at San Jose, 3-0 W – Full Recap
Sat., Nov. 25 at San Jose, 4-2 W – Full Recap
Fri., Jan. 5 vs. San Jose, 2-0 W – Full Recap
Sat., Jan. 6 vs. San Jose, 5-4 W (OT) – Full Recap
Tue., Jan. 9 at San Jose, 4-1 W – Full Recap
Tue., Feb. 27 vs. San Jose, 8-2 W – Full Recap
Wed., Mar. 27 at San Jose, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Sat., Apr. 6 vs. San Jose, 6:00 p.m.

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