REIGN PREVIEW 4/17 – Ontario at Bakersfield

WHO: Ontario Reign (40-22-3-4) at Bakersfield Condors (38-27-2-2)
WHEN: Wednesday, April 17 @ 6:30 PM Pacific
WHERE: Mechanics Bank Arena – Bakersfield, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Reign Radio TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The Ontario Reign will play their final game of the regular season in California Wednesday night when they travel to Bakersfield to take on the Condors at Mechanics Bank Arena in the eighth scheduled matchup of the two teams during 2023-24.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With their spot in the postseason secure, Ontario is now focused on seeding for the opening round which will begin on April 24. The Reign are tied with the Tucson Roadrunners for second place in the division, each with 87 points, and both earned back-to-back victories last weekend to keep pace with one another. Both teams have already secured home ice for the opening round of the playoffs. The Roadrunners are in action on Wednesday as well against Coachella Valley. Bakersfield is currently in sixth place in the Pacific standings with 80 points, three back of Abbotsford and Colorado who are even for fourth. Ontario is fifth in the league’s defensive rankings, allowing an average of just 2.70 goals per game this season. The Condors are also one of the better defensive teams in the league, allowing 2.78 goals per game which is seventh-best in the AHL.

LAST TIME OUT: After a back-and-forth pair of periods, Andre Lee put the Ontario Reign in front for good with the lone goal of the third period to defeat the Henderson Silver Knights 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.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Reign have bounced back in the season series against Bakersfield, winning each of their last two matchups by 4-3 scores to take a four games to three lead prior to Wednesday’s final meeting. Despite winning only three of seven games, the Condors have outscored Ontario by a combined 25-19 on the scoreboard in the series. The two teams are dead even in shots on net during the seven contests, with each putting 193 chances on the other’s goal. Bakersfield has dominated on the man-advantage in the series, scoring nine times on 24 chances which makes them the most successful team against the Reign’s penalty kill this season. Charles Hudon, Akil Thomas and Tyler Madden lead Ontario with five points apiece in the series, with Hudon and Thomas each posting three goals and two assists while Madden has earned two goals and three helpers. TJ Tynan (two goals, two assists) and Brandt Clarke (four assists) have each contributed four points apiece. Philip Broberg is the leading active scorer for the Condors against the Reign this year with six assists. He posted three helpers in the most recent matchup between the clubs on March 30.

COUNTING ON CLARKE: Rookie defenseman Brandt Clarke has points in three straight contests coming into Wednesday’s game against Bakersfield. The first-year blueliner added to his goal total by scoring his ninth of the season on Saturday in Henderson, his third tally of the year against the Silver Knights in Nevada. Clarke also previously found the back of the net in Henderson on Oct. 27 and Dec. 30 and helped contribute to the Reign finishing with a perfect 4-0-0 record there. This season the defender has been one of the top rookies in the AHL with 42 points in just 47 games. Clarke’s point total ranks eighth among all league defenders and is the second most of rookie blueliners behind Laval’s Logan Mailloux. His 33 assists are also tied for the most among any first-year skater in the league.

SCOUTING THE CONDORS: Bakersfield’s scoring leader this season is a familiar face for the Condors, Seth Griffith, who has 62 points in 65 games during his fourth season with the team on 15 goals and 47 assists. Griffith was recently named the AHL’s Player of the Week on April 8 after posting seven points in three games against Tucson and Calgary with two goals and five assists. Lane Pederson has also stepped up to be a major contributor offensively this season with 52 points in 64 games on 22 goals and 30 helpers, while Raphael Lavoie has a team-high 27 goals and is third on the club with 48 points. Defenseman Philip Broberg is leading the Condors in scoring from the blue line with 35 points in 48 games on five goals and 30 assists. Since their NHL affiliate, the Edmonton Oilers, shook things up and loaned former Reign netminder Jack Campbell to Bakersfield, the NHL veteran has appeared in 31 games for the Condors between the pipes, going 17-13-0 with a 2.58 goals-against and a 0.920 save percentage. Olivier Rodridgue has also been counted on in 36 games this season and has a 2.72 GAA and a 0.915 save percentage.

TYNAN LEADING THE WAY: Reign captain TJ Tynan posted two assists on Friday night during the team’s overtime win over San Diego and added another helper the following day in a victory at Henderson. He continues to lead the league with 54 total assists on the year as the Reign begin the final week of the regular season. He is aiming to be at the top of the pack in the category for the third consecutive year with Ontario and the fourth time in his career. While suiting up for each of the club’s 69 games, Tynan has produced 63 points, reaching the 60-point mark for the fifth time. The 10th-year forward ranks fifth in the AHL in overall scoring and has had six games with three or more assists this season. Tynan now sits 54th all-time in league scoring with 590 points in 639 games played.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Ontario finished its regular season home schedule by claiming points from 14 straight contests at Toyota Area. Starting with a Feb. 9 shootout loss to Henderson, the club went 11-0-0-3, 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 compiled a 19-11-2-4 record at home this season, accumulating 44 of their points in the standings in front of their fans. With Saturday’s win in Henderson, the Reign officially secured themselves more home contests during the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs, with the team scheduled to begin the postseason at home as a top-4 seed in the Pacific Division.

2023-24 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Bakersfield (all times Pacific):
Sat., Oct. 21 at Bakersfield, 3-2 W – Full Recap
Fri., Dec. 8 vs. Bakersfield, 4-6 L – Full Recap
Sat., Dec. 9 at Bakersfield, 2-1 W – Full Recap
Sun., Jan. 21 vs. Bakersfield, 2-6 L – Full Recap
Sat., Mar. 16 at Bakersfield, 0-4 L – Full Recap
Sun., Mar. 24 vs. Bakersfield, 4-3 W – Full Recap
Sat., Mar. 30 vs. Bakersfield, 4-3 W – Full Recap
Wed., Apr. 17 at Bakersfield, 6:30 p.m.

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