Although it’s still early in both the AHL and NHL 2023-24 seasons, LA GM Rob Blake and Ontario GM Rich Seeley have to like what they’re seeing from both of their clubs thus far. Small sample sizes aside, each team is riding a five-game road winning streak. And before LA tries their luck in Philadelphia on Saturday, coach Marco Sturm and his Ontario squad will begin a two-game series in Colorado on Friday, the first of back-to-back games against the Eagles.
Things haven’t been easy up on the mountain for the Reign going all the way back to the Eagles debuting as an AHL team in 2018-19. Last season, Ontario did manage to pick up two wins in four contests played in Colorado. However, the Eagles went on to sweep the Reign out of the playoffs last spring — making it three straight years they’ve eliminated Ontario in the opening round.
Rookie defenseman Brandt Clarke will be getting his first look at the Eagles, in his first trip to Colorado. Although the former No. 1 selection by LA did get into five games with the Reign last year as part of a conditioning assignment, his only road game was in Henderson and none of the four home games were against the Avalanche affiliate. Early in this campaign, Clarke has produced six points in six games played. He also leads all AHL rookie defensemen in goals (2) and shots (32).
Before twitter runs wild (that never happens, right?)…
According to what we've heard, neither goalie is injured /nor other issues. This was precautionary. Ontario has B2B games in Colorado this weekend… If something did happen, they need to be prepared. Travel isn't easy. https://t.co/yTc6qf4BvX
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) November 3, 2023
With back-to-back games this weekend, we’re expecting Sturm to split goaltending duties, with David Rittich and rookie Erik Portillo each getting one start. The latter has won both of his AHL starts this season and won a pair of preseason games with the Kings too.
Fan favorite Jacob Doty has scored in two straight games. He’ll be going for the rare trifecta tonight.
Following this weekend’s two-game set, the Eagles travel to SoCal for a game against the Reign next Sunday.
In a fun trivia note, the Eagles were originally founded as a Central Hockey League expansion franchise in 2003. In 2011, they joined the ECHL — winning six division titles in eight seasons — and then eventually upgraded to the AHL. Colorado had actually been scheduled to join the group of AHL clubs moving west back when the Manchester Monarchs became the Reign in 2015. For a variety of reasons, though, that didn’t happen until 2018.
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. COLORADO EAGLES
Maltsev – Tynan – Madden
Hudon – Turcotte – Chromiak
Pinelli – Thomas – Ward
Pavlychev – Helenius – Doty
Other options include: Francis, Hodgson
Moverare – Clarke
Nousiainen – Santini
Krygier – Connauton
Other options include: Hicketts, Wylie
Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm Pacific Time and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
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