In a collection of words that don’t even feel right to type, coach John Wroblewski will make his debut behind the bench tonight at Toyota Arena in Ontario. Sure, he already coached the Reign for an entire AHL season. Yet, that all took place out of the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.
The last time the Reign played in their home arena was February 29, 2020. Not only did the pandemic cause a more than 18-month relocation, but management also said goodbye to longtime bench boss Mike Stothers during that time. He’s gone from winning a Calder Cup with the Kings top minor league affiliate to now coaching with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
As for Wroblewski, he came in with a lot of fanfare one year ago, and coached the Reign through a difficult transition in personnel on the ice. Although the Kings have one of the NHL’s top prospect pools, few other organizations have seen so many of their prospects turn pro all at the same time. For much of last year, Wrobo was icing an AHL team largely made up of first-year pro players.
Even so, they put together a remarkable run in the second half of the season and were one of the hotter teams in the AHL before coming out on the wrong end of a one-and-done playoff game in May.
Over the summer, Reign GM Rich Seeley and Kings GM Rob Blake retooled the Reign roster a bit, adding a veteran goaltender in Garret Sparks (shoring up a weak spot for the Reign last season), along with signing AHL MVP T.J. Tynan and trading Boko Imama to Arizona for Brayden Burke.
Out on the blueline is where the Reign could be markedly better this season, as well. Young prospects Jordan Spence and Helge Grans have turned pro and look to add a dynamic presence to the team’s defensive group. One important note to pass along — from what we’re hearing, Grans will most likely be kept to about 45-50 AHL games this season. Management wants him spending as much time with the Kings development group as possible because he is just now being exposed to that side of the business, after originally being selected at the 2020 NHL Draft.
With many of the Kings top prospects called up to play an NHL preseason game in Anaheim on Wednesday, names like Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, and Alex Turcotte are expected to sit tonight.
Veteran defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who was not re-signed over the summer, is in camp on a Professional Tryout (PTO) and will play in the Reign’s first of two preseason games.
Also expected to play are a pair of camp invitees – forward Dallas Gerads (Daniel Brickley’s former teammate at Minnesota State), as well as defensemen Christian Kasastul (Sweden) and Bobby Russell (WHL).
Russell was the leading point producer among defensemen on the Spokane Chiefs last season and was teammates there with Jaret Anderson-Dolan during the latter’s final year of junior hockey.
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. SAN DIEGO GULLS on 10/7
Madden – Tynan – Frk
Burke – Johnson – Fagemo
Sodergran – Sutter – Dudas
Kemp – Gerads – Doty
Other options include: Pavlychev
Gaunce – Spence
Phillips – Grans
Russell – Kasastul
Other options include: Clague, Durzi, Moverare
For a deeper look at the full list of players that Wrobo and the Reign are working with leading into opening night on October 16, see our article linked below.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm tonight and the game can be streamed here:
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