To close out the 2022-23 regular season, the Ontario Reign had a scheduled back-to-back weekend series vs. the Henderson Silver Knights. There wasn’t much to play for beyond pride, momentum, and a playoff seed that would only determine if the Reign were heading to Abbotsford or Colorado.
A 5-2 defeat at home on Friday night did little more than officially slot the team into the No. 6 seed. The odds favor them heading to Colorado for a best-of-three series (note: all games will played in the host city during the first round this year), yet it could still go either way pending the results of Saturday night’s San Diego-Colorado and Calgary-Abbotsford games.
For now, the Reign just need to worry about themselves.
With the team’s regular season drawing to a close on Saturday in Henderson, it also seems fitting to recognize a few of the standout performances from Ontario’s 2022-23 campaign. Last night, Lias Anderson became a 30-goal scorer, while Tyler Madden potted his 20th tally, as well. TJ Tynan, who has appeared in every game this season, added an assist for his 80th point; which came just a few days after the Reign captain had been named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team. On the backend, Jordan Spence — despite only appearing in 55 AHL games this season — set his career high in points (44).
Looking ahead to the postseason, Ontario is hopeful of making a deep run through the Calder Cup playoffs. For the first time since 2015-2018, the Reign will appear in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. A majority of the key players who got a taste of AHL playoff hockey last year are still on the roster, which should help, given they have some experience in that environment.
With their own playoff seeding decided, we thought there may be a chance that Erik Portillo would make his pro debut tonight. However, indications are, coach Marco Sturm will instead turn to Matt Villalta. In an interesting note, this could be Villalta’s last start with the team. Cal Petersen would be the assumed starter for the playoffs and Villalta doesn’t have a contract for next season. He will be a Restricted Free Agent this summer (with arbitration rights), so the Kings will need to extend him an offer by late June to retain his rights. Given the likelihood that the entire LA organization is likely going through a shuffling of the deck among their goaltending pipeline, Villalta’s future with the organization is cloudy, at best.
If you’re unfamiliar with Portillo, be sure to check out this article:
Details on LA Kings Acquiring Rights to Goalie Erik Portillo
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS
Madden – Tynan – Quine
Andersson – Turcotte – Fagemo
Dudas – Linden – Chromiak
Lee – Schnarr – Ward
Björnfot – Spence
Moverare – Gaunce
Krygier – Grans
Likely game scratches: Bisson, Goulbourne, Helenius, Inamoto, Nousiainen, Petersen, Thompson
Out long-term, injured: Thomas, Doty
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm PST tonight and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
Lineup graphic via ALo Images
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