After dropping Game 1 by a score of 10-1, the Ontario Reign managed to rally late and force overtime in Game 2.
Akil Thomas scores his 4th goal of the playoffs to bring the #Reign to within 1.
Assisted by: Tkachev(3), Allard(2) pic.twitter.com/Byj5r0hE0d
— Eric (@kingsgifs2) May 14, 2022
Tkachev ties the game with 33 seconds left in the 3rd period! #Reign
Assisted by: Allard(3), Anderson-Dolan(2) pic.twitter.com/oLUydWOyP0
— Eric (@kingsgifs2) May 14, 2022
In the end, it was another Colorado Eagles victory, which has pushed Ontario to the brink of elimination in their best-of-five series.
On the positive side of things, Games 3 will be played back on home ice. Should the Reign win, Games 4 and 5 would also be played at Toyota Arena.
Entering Sunday night, the big questions surround what lineup Ontario will go with.
As reported Friday, Alex Turcotte is expected out for the foreseeable future after taking a vicious cross-check to the head in Game 1 (video here).
Given how Colorado has tried to push around Ontario, it was a bit surprising to not see 6-foot-6 Samuel Helenius in the lineup for Game 2. While the coaching staff may have preferred to go with the experience of Austin Wagner or Aidan Dudas over 6-foot-4 forward Andre Lee, Helenius is known for playing a very physical game — something the Reign likely need to engage in to combat the Eagles gameplan.
With the LA Kings eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night, four prospects are now eligible to return to the AHL — Quinton Byfield, Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, and Jordan Spence. While all would be a welcome addition, especially given their offensive prowess, Mayor’s Manor sources say none of the four will be assigned to Ontario until Monday, pending the outcome of tonight’s game.
Additionally, should there be a Game 4, the Kings could also assign three other prospects to Ontario. OHL prospects Martin Chromiak and Francesco Pinelli were both eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. Again, Mayor’s Manor has been told decisions on those players will also come Monday. Chromiak would most likely receive heavy consideration; especially given his time with the Reign last season and the fact he’s expected to be in the AHL next season.
ECHL goaltender Lukas Parik is still not available, as Rapid City in still alive in the Clark Cup Playoffs.
Meanwhile, goaltender Matt Villalta is officially returning to the AHL. We’re told, the plan is to make him available as a backup on Sunday, should the coaching staff opt to go in that direction.
Below is a guestimate how things will be put together based on the limited amount of information available come playoff time. Of course, there is always the very real possibility that the Reign will continue to sit Helenius and use Jaret Anderson-Dolan at center, rather than at LW1 (where he has been so effective over the past few months).
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. COLORADO EAGLES
JAD – Tynan – Frk
Madden – Thomas – Fagemo
Tkachev – Sutter – Ward
Dudas – Helenius – Doty
Other options include: Lee, Pavlychev, Wagner
Gaunce – Grans
Wolanin – Allard
Hickey – Nogier
Other options include: Inamoto, Nousiainen
Sparks (unconfirmed starter)
Other options: Hrenak, Lethemon
Puck drop for Game 3 in the best-of-five series is scheduled for 8pm PST tonight and can be viewed on AHL TV.
Lead photo via Daniel Stopani.
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