For the third time this season, the Reign will faceoff with the expansion Henderson Silver Knights on Sunday night.
Things didn’t go so well in their previous two-game set, which came on opening weekend of the 2021 AHL season. However, Ontario coach John Wroblewski said he liked the team’s effort in that first game against Henderson – saying the team “played pretty well” despite dropping that game 5-2. When they faced off again two days later, it was the goaltending that wasn’t sharp that night.
While the saying might be ‘third time is a charm,’ the odds are stacked against Wrobo’s club in this one. Kings prospect Alex Turcotte is not expected to play. He’s been sidelined for several games now and doesn’t appear ready to return. Adding to the shortage at center, fellow prospect Rasmus Kupari was recalled to the NHL taxi squad on Saturday. He led the AHL in scoring at that time, thus was a primary driver of the Reign offense.
From what we’re hearing, this is going to lead to a lot of shuffling throughout the game tonight, with 11 forwards being moved around the four lines quite a bit. It will indeed be a patchwork lineup used, regardless of what the lineup looks like at the start of the game.
For those reasons, we’re tagging Aidan Dudas as the x-factor in this game and the player to watch. He’s versatile, can be used at all three forward positions, is capable of playing in nearly any situation (including special teams), and has a motor that won’t quit. Look for him to have an impact on tonight’s game if the Reign are to find any kind of success vs. the Silver Knights.
In goal, we have confirmed the Reign will go with Matt Villalta between the pipes. In his last outing, he nearly pitched his first pro shutout — and first since 2018. Even so, Villalta did claim the Reign’s first (and only) win of the season.
Ontario Reign Projected Lineup for Sunday 2/21 vs. Henderson Silver Knights
Mikey Eyssimont – Akil Thomas – Tyler Madden
Arthur Kaliyev – Quinton Byfield – Sammy Fagemo
Blaine Byron – Aidan Dudas
Nick Halloran – Brett Sutter – Jacob Doty
Cole Hults – Kale Clague
Daniel Brickley – Mark Alt
Cameron Gaunce – Sean Durzi
Matt Villalta (starter)
With Turcotte still out for now, and the Reign having the next five days off, perhaps this is something to think about for when the Reign play again next Saturday…
Potential Reign Lineup for Next Weekend
Eyssimont – Byfield – Fagemo
Madden – Turcotte – Kaliyev
Byron – Thomas – Dudas
Halloran – Sutter – Doty
Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm PST and can be streamed through AHL TV.
There is a significant pregame roster change for the Henderson Silver Knights. They’ve returned 2019 first round pick (17th overall) Peyton Krebs to the Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League. The 20 year old forward had appeared in five games with the Silver Knights, notching one goal, five points, and a plus-6 rating.
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