After being idle since last Sunday, the Reign are now in San Jose for a two-game set vs. the Barracuda. While Ontario likely welcomed the break to continue working with their plethora of first-year pro players, San Jose is coming off of a 13-day hiatus where five different games had to be postponed due to either weather or protocol related complications.
To date, both teams have claimed just a single victory in 2021, with Ontario carrying a 1-6-1 record and San Jose slightly better at 1-4-1 thus far.
Had this game been played just a few weeks ago, it could have very well featured the Kings 2019 and 2020 first round draft picks (Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte) taking on a pair of San Jose’s top picks from 2020 (first rounder Ozzy Wiesblatt and second rounder Tristen Robins). However, both of the latter were recently returned to their Western Hockey League teams, as that league is preparing to start back up.
Additionally, we’ve learned Turcotte will not play tonight. Several days ago, we reported he was expected to play in both games this weekend after getting word he had resumed skating with the Reign in practice and appeared on track. Although Turcotte did travel to NoCal with the team and could still play tomorrow, from what we’ve gathered his situation is similar to what the big club has been going through with Mikey Anderson – he’s recovering, yet there are concerns if he’d make it through the game, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.
With Rasmus Kupari in Minnesota with the Kings, this once again leaves coach John Wroblewski with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in his lineup.
Meanwhile, the Barracuda received two solid pieces back from the NHL this week in forward Maxim Letunov and 2019 AHL All-Star goalie Josef Korenar. Both had been up on the Sharks NHL taxi squad. Letunov led the Barracuda in points last season, recording 12 goals and 28 assists. Like Ontario, San Jose’s current roster is filled with an abundance of AHL rookies, including Sharks 2018 first round selection Ryan Merkley on defense.
It was looking like the Reign may see old friend Chaz Reddekopp on this trip too, but San Jose ended up reassigning him to the ECHL.
Last time out, Wroblewski mixed and matched guys with his 11+7 setup, so — outside of Villalta as the starter — this is a guess, at best…
Ontario Reign Projected Lineup for Saturday 2/27 vs. San Jose Barracuda
Tyler Madden – Quinton Byfield – Aidan Dudas
Mikey Eyssimont – Akil Thomas – Arthur Kaliyev
Blaine Byron – Brett Sutter – Sammy Fagemo
Nick Halloran – Jacob Doty
Cole Hults – Kale Clague
Daniel Brickley – Mark Alt
Cameron Gaunce – Sean Durzi
Matt Villalta (starter)
Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm PST and can be streamed through AHL TV.
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