REIGN PREVIEW 4/12 – Ontario vs. San Diego

WHO: Ontario Reign (38-22-3-4) vs. San Diego Gulls (25-32-8-1)
WHEN: Friday, April 12 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The 2023-24 SoCal Series wraps up on Friday night in Ontario when the Reign host the San Diego Gulls for the fourth time in the eighth matchup of the Pacific Division rivals. It’s also the regular season home finale for the Reign at Toyota Arena with the team looking to inch closer to a home ice position for the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With their spot in the postseason secure, Ontario is now focused on seeding for the opening round which will begin during the week of April 22. The Reign are tied with the Tucson Roadrunners and Colorado Eagles for second place in the division, each with 83 points. A win and a little help in their favor on Saturday night would solidify a finish of no lower than fifth place. The Reign are also aiming to even up the season series against San Diego, which has seen the Gulls take four of the seven decisions between the two teams this year. Ontario is tied for fourth in the league’s defensive rankings, allowing an average of just 2.67 goals per game this season. San Diego has found success on the power play by scoring on 20.8% of their opportunities this season, which is third-best in the AHL. The Gulls are in ninth place in the standings and have been eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive year.

LAST TIME OUT: The Coachella Valley Firebirds used a three-goal second period to skate past the Ontario Reign Wednesday night at Acrisure Arena by a final score of 3-1. While playing in his 200th career game, Tyler Madden scored the lone goal of the evening for Ontario in a losing effort, also recording his 100th career point with his 15th tally of the year. Aaron Dell stopped 30 shots in goal for the Reign in a losing effort.

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 seven meetings this season things have been much more even, with the Gulls having the upper hand by earning a 4-3-0 record. The Reign suffered back-to-back losses to San Diego to open the year before claiming a 3-2 win in the third matchup and coming up short in overtime by a 4-3 final on Dec. 28. Ontario then went into San Diego and secured a 3-2 win on Feb. 24 and Aaron Dell posted a 3-0 shutout performance of the Gulls with 24 saves on the first night of March. Most recently San Diego defeated the Reign 2-1 at Pechanga Arena on March 13 in a game that ended Ontario’s season-high eight-game win streak despite a shot-differential of 42-13 that favored the Reign. Ontario has outshot the Gulls by a combined margin of 238-194 in the seven contests.

MADDEN’S MILESTONE NIGHT: Reign forward Tyler Madden has recorded points in seven of his last eight games, his hottest stretch of the season. Wednesday night’s contest served as his 200th career professional game, all of which have come with Ontario. By scoring the Reign’s only goal in a losing effort, Madden achieved his 50th career tally and 100th career point. The Deerfield Beach, Fla. native is two points away from tying his career-high in scoring which was set last season when he finished with 33 points on 20 goals and 13 assists. While appearing in every one of Ontario’s 67 games this year, Madden has posted 15 goals and 16 assists.

SCOUTING THE GULLS: Forward Andrew Agozzino leads San Diego in scoring with 57 points on 22 goals and 35 assists while suiting up in all 66 of their games this season. Glenn Gawdin has also found the back of the net a team-high 22 times and has posted 54 total points, which is second-most on the club. Captain Chase De Leo has tallied 47 points on 15 goals and 32 helpers. Veteran blueliner Trevor Carrick is the active leading scorer among the team’s defensemen, accounting for 40 points (8-32=40). Goaltender Tomas Suchanek has been solid in net since joining the group, posting a 13-9-4 record in 26 appearances with a 2.75 goals-against average, a 0.914 save percentage and three shutouts. Calle Clang has also been in goal for 30 games and has a 10-14-4 record which includes five appearances and three victories against Ontario.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Ontario has claimed a point from 13 straight home games, dating back to a Feb. 9 shootout loss to Henderson. During that span, the club has gone 10-0-0-3, turning around what was a slow start in the Inland Empire. During March, the team produced seven victories at home with the lone blemish coming as a 4-3 shootout loss to Coachella Valley on March 15. Overall, the Reign have compiled a 18-11-2-4 record at home this season, accumulating 42 of their points in the standings in front of their fans. In games played in the state of California, Ontario is 29-14-3-4.

LEE RETURNS WITH A BANG: Forward Andre Lee posted two points Mar. 30 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 last Wednesday night and then scored a game-tying goal Saturday to force overtime in an eventual shootout win over San Jose. While Lee has only recorded 11 points in 31 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 new career highs in both goal scoring (7) and overall points (11).

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, 1-2 L – Full Recap
Fri., Apr. 12 vs. San Diego, 7:00 p.m.

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