After starting the season red hot, winning six of their first seven games, the Ontario Reign have gone cold. They’ve dropped four straight games, including three straight on the road.
This past week brought plenty of practice time for coach Marco Sturm and the team, as they haven’t played a game since last Sunday’s home defeat to the San Diego Gulls.
This weekend, they find themselves kicking off a home-and-home series in Henderson. They’ll be facing a Silver Knights team they took down 5-3 in mid-October in their only other faceoff thus far this season. Four of Ontario’s goal scorers from that game are expected to be in the lineup this afternoon, including: Akil Thomas, Tyler Madden, and Nate Thompson.
Last time out, the Reign saw a plethora of LA Kings prospects in their starting lineup, namely: Brandt Clarke, Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Martin Chromiak. While Byfield suited up at wing last Sunday, he’s expected to return to center for this game. Meanwhile, it looks like Turcotte will do the opposite, moving from center to left wing.
The below lineup projection is largely based upon how Sturm set things up at practice this week, along with a few assumptions. For example, Andre Lee has been skating as an extra forward with the third line. Knowing that Turcotte will be playing and that the Thomas-Dudas pairing has been a favorite of Sturm all season, that likely leaves Lee on the outside looking in today. Ditto for Austin Wagner, who has been the extra forward on the Sammy Helenius line while he works his way back into game shape.
Defensively speaking, Kim Nousiainen has been rotated in an out of games quite a bit of late. We’ll assume that continues today, as Sturm is trying his best to juggle the eight defensemen at his disposal. Again, there are only so many spots available to play with, as Toby Bjornfot, Jordan Spence, Helge Grans, and Brandt Clarke are almost surely playing. As Clarke was paired with Cameron Gaunce for his AHL debut last Sunday, that’s likely to continue.
In net, Matt Villalta and Pheonix Copley will almost surely split the two weekend starts. Whoever goes today will be expected to give way to the other netminder for Sunday’s rematch in Ontario.
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS
Ward – Tynan – Fagemo
Quine – Byfield – Madden
Turcotte – Thomas – Dudas
Thompson – Helenius – Chromiak
Björnfot – Spence
Bison – Grans
Gaunce – Clarke
Game scratches: Allard, Doty, Lee, Nousiainen, Wagner
Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm PST today and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
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