4/13 REIGN FINAL – Reign 5, Silver Knights 4 – Sturm, Lee, Portillo

After a back-and-forth pair of periods, Andre Lee put the Ontario Reign (40-22-3-4) in front for good with the lone goal of the third period to defeat the Henderson Silver Knights (27-35-3-5) by a final score of 5-4 on Saturday night at Lee’s Family Forum.

The Reign’s 40th win of the campaign officially cliched the team a home ice position for the opening round of the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs, which will begin on April 24 at Toyota Arena regardless of Ontario’s opponent.


In addition to Lee, other Reign goals in the game came from Carl Grundstrom, who was assigned to Ontario earlier in the day on a long-term injury conditioning loan, Jacob Doty, Brandt Clarke and Hayden Hodgson.

The contest completed the season series between the Reign and Silver Knights for 2023-24, which saw Ontario go 5-1-1-1 with a perfect 4-0-0 record in Henderson. The Reign remain in a tie for second place in the Pacific Division alongside the Tucson Roadrunners, each with 87 points in the standings.

In his first AHL game since early 2020, Grundstrom opened the scoring for Ontario at 2:33 of the first with a wrister from the left circle that got through the legs of Henderson goaltender Isaiah Saville to make it 1-0.

1:18 after Grundstrom’s tally, Doty added to the lead, taking a centering feed from Samuel Helenius before beating Saville with a quick wrist shot. Doty’s sixth of the season had Ontario ahead 2-0 at 3:51 of the first.

Clarke then made it 3-0 Ontario at 6:06 with his team-leading 10th point of the year against the Silver Knights and the ninth goal of his rookie season. Clarke found himself on a 2-on-1 rush and finished the play with a wrist shot that beat Saville underneath his blocker.

Two minutes later, during Ontario’s first power play, Henderson’s Jett Jones found himself on a shorthanded rush and beat goaltender Erik Portillo with a shot up high to get the Silver Knights on the board and make it a 3-1 game at 8:08.

But the Reign earned their three-goal lead back less than a minute later at 8:47 when Hodgson picked a corner and saw his wrist shot go off the post and in. Grundstrom earned his second point of the period with the primary assist on the play and Ontario had themselves a 4-1 lead before the halfway mark of the first period.

It was at that point of the game when the Silver Knights pulled Saville from the game and replaced him with Jesper Vikman. Saville surrendered all four of the Reign’s goals in the first on just six shots.

Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention, Henderson didn’t go away quietly, turning the tables on the Reign in the middle period by scoring three straight to even up the game at 4-4.

Grigori Denisenko put the Silver Knights back within two goals at 8:12 with his 19th strike of the season. Then Ryan Dzingel netted a power play tally at 15:37 to make it 4-3 and Byron Froese tied the score before the second intermission by capitalizing on a turnover in the Ontario end at 17:56.

While the teams entered the third period tied, Lee sent the Reign back to Southern California with two points by scoring his eighth goal of the year at 8:54 of the final frame. A feed by Wyatte Wylie was redirected toward the net by Samuel Helenius and knocked off Lee’s stick before entering the net.

Portillo shut the door on Henderson for the rest of the third, finishing with eight stops in the period and 26 overall in the game to record his 23rd win of his rookie year.

Vikman finished the game for the Silver Knights and stopped 17 of the 18 shots that came his way during the final 49:04. Henderson outshot Ontario 30-24 in the contest and scored the only power play goal of the game, going 1-for-5 on the man-advantage while holding the Reign to an 0-for-3 mark.

Postgame thoughts from Reign head coach Marco Sturm, Lee and Portillo are below.

Marco Sturm

Andre Lee

Erik Portillo

The Reign resume their schedule Wednesday night with a matchup in Bakersfield against the Condors at Mechanics Bank Arena beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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