With only two games remaining in their 2021 regular season, the Ontario Reign still have some important business to handle before beginning their postseason next Tuesday.
Friday night will mark the first in a set of games they’ll play in Tucson. After dropping a pair to the Roadrunners back in February, the Reign have gone on to defeat them in the next four contests, outscoring them 19-8. If they can earn two points this weekend, Ontario will secure the sixth seed in the division. With that, would come a first round game vs. either the San Jose Barracuda or Colorado Eagles.
Ontario enters this weekend as the hottest team in the Pacific Division, posting a 6-3-1 record over their most recent 10 game stretch. They’ll be looking to add to that, ending on a high note and heading into Tuesday with some positive momentum.
Up front, coach John Wroblewski is getting back his top center, Quinton Byfield. The first-year pro and second overall selection from last year’s NHL Draft was second on the team in points at the time of his call-up to the Kings. With eight goals and 12 assists in 30 games played with the Reign this season, Byfield will want to pick up where he left off before his brief stint with the Kings.
Also penciled in for tonight is the return of Tyler Madden. Sidelined since a vicious hit more than two months ago, the 21-year-old forward has been back practicing with the team and is eager to resume his 2021 campaign.
Unfortunately, to make room for both players, Kings prospect Martin Chromiak will have to sit this one out.
Two LA Kings roster moves coming…
Lias Andersson and Rasmus Kupari will rejoin the Reign, as AHL playoffs start Tuesday.
Reign have two regular season games remaining, tonight and Sunday at Tucson. Lineup projection coming soon to MM — including a major note on Tyler Madden.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) May 14, 2021
And the lineup decisions could only get more difficult for Wroblewski in the days ahead. As we reported, look for an official announcement soon that Lias Andersson and Rasmus Kupari will be rejoining the Reign. The former has been a point-per-game player in the AHL this season and has looked equally impressive at the NHL level of late. Meanwhile, Kupari was one of the most effective centers on the Reign roster most of the season and has been a regular threat with the puck on his stick. Despite missing seven of Ontario’s games due to being up in the NHL, Kupari remains third on the Reign in team scoring, recording 22 points (7G, 15A) in 31 games played.
Jack Sadek, who signed an AHL only contract with the Reign and has been playing most of the year at ECHL Greenville, was recalled a few days ago and he’s expected to see time on the blueline tonight.
Ontario Reign Projected Lineup vs. Tucson Roadrunners
Johnson – Byfield – Frk
Eyssimont – Turcotte – Kaliyev
Madden – Thomas – Fagemo
Imama – Sutter – Doty
Moverare – Durzi
Phillips – Clague
Brickley – Sadek
Other Roster Notes:
— Austin Strand is sidelined with an injury.
— Devante Smith Pelly and Nick Halloran will be healthy scratches, while Blaine Byron remains out with an injury. All three players are on AHL-only contracts.
— Defenseman Cole Hults and goaltender Jacob Ingham are on the NHL taxi squad.
Tonight’s puck drop is scheduled for 7pm PST and can be streamed through AHL TV.
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Photo courtesy of AHL Tucson Roadrunners