As the Ontario Reign are set to begin their final week of the regular season with a game against the Coachella Valley Firebirds, they’ll be bringing a rather full group out to Palm Desert.
Forward Alex Turcotte returned last game — and it’s no coincidence that his presence in the lineup helped lead to a victory, the team’s first win in several games. Tonight, coach Marco Sturm will also have Toby Bjornfot and Jordan Spence back on the blueline, for what has to be a welcome sight defensively. Cal Petersen is expected to start in net.
Perhaps more importantly, this will make for a good postseason tuneup. Coachella Valley has been one of the top teams in the league all season. Furthermore, Ontario’s playoff ticket has already been punched. They will begin a best-of-three series on the road next week for the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs — either against Abbotsford or Colorado. Be sure to check out the latest Kings of Of The the Podcast episode where John Hoven explained various scenarios and storylines.
Tonight is the final time these two teams will meet in the regular season. Ontario brings a 3-3-1 head-to-head record against Coachella Valley into play and the Reign can act as spoilers to a certain extent, as a regulation loss by the Firebirds would end the expansion team’s hopes of winning the Pacific Division.
One of Ontario’s key strengths continues to be the execution on special teams. Both the power play and penalty kill sit in the top 10 in the league. The penalty kill has fallen back a little, but still is at 84.3% which is still good for fourth in the AHL. The power play has converted 21.3% of the time which is good enough for eighth-best in the league. It’s rather impressive to see the success on special teams considering there has been so much lineup fluidity with top players going up and down between LA and Ontario.
Based upon practice yesterday, here is how things are most likely going to be set up tonight:
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. COACHELLA VALLEY FIREBIRDS
Andersson – Tynan – Quine
Madden – Turcotte – Fagemo
Dudas – Thompson – Chromiak
Lee – Schnarr – Ward
Björnfot – Spence
Krygier – Gaunce
Moverare – Bisson
Likely game scratches: Goulbourne, Grans, Helenius, Inamoto, Linden, Nousiainen
Recalled to NHL: Kupari
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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