Wednesday saw the best rivalry in the AHL renewed for the first of 10 times this season. Now, as the Reign prepare for their 2021 home opener, they’ll be facing a team that absolutely owned them last season.
In the 2019-20 AHL season, Tucson posted a 7-1 record against the Reign, while outscoring them 40-18 in those games.
Here’s the good news, though…
For starters, that one Reign win came the last time these teams met in the regular season, back on February 28, 2020. In that game, team captain Brett Sutter recorded a hat trick and the Reign won 8-4.
While much of the other offense that night came from guys no longer on the team – i.e. Carl Grunstrom, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Tobias Bjornfot, etc. – that actually can be seen as a positive here too. This 2021 Reign team has had a massive amount of turnover. Thus, last year’s record has little to no bearing on tonight’s contest.
These two teams met twice in the pre-season last month, splitting the games 1-1.
However, things are still trending in the wrong direction. Tucson comes in with a 2-0 record in the regular season thus far, having picked up home wins over the San Jose Barracuda last weekend. Conversely, the Reign are sporting an 0-3 record, with a pair of losses to Henderson and one to San Diego just two nights ago.
In net, the Reign will go with Kings prospect Matt Villalta, following up on his near brilliant performance against the Gulls. At the other end, Roadrunners goaltender Ivan Prosvetov made 69 saves on 73 shots in his two starts last weekend. Last season, Prosvetov posted a 3-1 record when facing the Reign. Again, the one loss was the aforementioned game nearly one year ago.
— Tucson Roadrunners (@RoadrunnersAHL) February 12, 2021
At center, Tucson features Kaliyev’s OHL linemate, Jan Jenik.
Tucson Roadrunners Projected Lineup
Bunting – Pederson – Roy
Steenbergen – Jenik – Carcone
Sucese – Speers – Gregoire
Hancock – McGregor – Wilkins
Mayo – Soderstrom
Dineen – Schmaltz
Somerby – Crotty
Sammy Fagemo has the lone Reign power play goal this season.
Mikey Eyssimont and Arthur Kaliyev are tied for the team lead with 10 shots each. Neither has found the back of the net just yet.
Alex Turcotte (pictured above) has recorded nine shots over the team’s first three games and is also looking for his first AHL goal.
After being moved up to the top line last game, Byfiled had this to say about his new linemate:
Byfield on @tp_madden10 – Great player, great skater, has a good shot, and sees the ice really well. He's easy to play with. You get him the puck and you know you're probably getting an entry into the zone and some o-zone time. We created quite a bit together, just didn't finish.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 11, 2021
Ontario Reign Projected Lineup for Friday 2/12 vs. Tucson Roadrunners
Tyler Madden – Quinton Byfield – Akil Thomas
Blaine Byron – Rasmus Kupari – Sammy Fagemo
Mikey Eyssimont – Alex Turcotte – Arthur Kaliyev
Boko Imama – Brett Sutter – Aidan Dudas
Daniel Brickley – Sean Durzi
Markus Phillips – Mark Alt
Cameron Gaunce – Jack Sadek
Scratches include – Cole Hults, Jack Poehling, Nick Poehling, and Jacob Doty
Tonight’s game can be streamed through AHL TV. Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm PST.
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