Tonight, there will be hockey played in Ontario.
On its own, that’s a rarity. Maybe it’s even more scarce than this week’s Beaver Moon, somebody will need to fact check that one.
We know this for sure, though — Ontario will only host a Tuesday night tilt on three occasions this season. After tonight, the next one won’t come until Jan. 30 against Colorado.
Enough about all that, let’s get down to the hockey at hand.
The Reign enter play this evening riding a four-game win streak. Goaltender David Rittich is expected to get the start in net and he’s coming off shutouts in his last two starts. He’s faced Tucson once previously this season. Back on Nov. 8, the Reign fell behind 3-1, yet third period goals from Tyler Madden and Brandt Clarke forced overtime. It was in the extra session where Rittich gave up a goal that cost him a victory. It also ties into the tale of his start with Ontario. Through 11 games played, the 31-year-old netminder has often been feast or famine. He has given up two goals or less in six of his starts (including three shutouts). Meanwhile, in the other five starts, Rittich has given up four goals or more all but once.
For those asking about rookie Erik Portillo — who also had a shutout in his last game — Reign GM Rich Seeley explained in detail what the plan was for playing time during his recent Kings Of The Podcast appearance:
One of the other players Seeley spoke about was Kings prospect Sammy Fagemo. In six games back with the club since being reclaimed on waivers from Nashville, the 22-year-old Swede has been on a ridiculous tear. He’s racked up 11 points over that span, including eight goals. Fagemo has scored in all but one game, and had multi-goal nights in half of those six games.
To the surprise of nobody, coach Marco Sturm has Fagemo penciled in on the top line again tonight.
However, there appears to be at least two lineup changes coming. At practice on Monday, Sturm had rookie Franky Pinelli back up on the second line after sitting out Saturday’s game vs. San Jose. Following the early November series against Tucson, Sturm has essentially been rotating Pinelli in/out about every other game. Overall, through 14 games played, the 6-foot-1 winger has two goals and one assist. Perhaps more concerning is the fact he only has 13 shots on goal. This is coming from a player who averaged more than four SOG per game last season with OHL Kitchener.
“If you remember, we did the same thing with [Martin] Chromiak,” Sturm recently told MayorsManor, when asked about Pinelli being a healthy scratch. “There’s a lot of things he has to learn, playing against men. He’s in the early stage of it and sometimes it’s good to watch. He did okay. He’s a good kid and he wants to get better. There are a few things he needs to get better at; sometimes you need to be patient, as well. He will be fine. He will be on track. Again, I think once and a while it’s okay to watch a game and see [things] from a different point of view.”
Speaking of Chromiak, he skated on the ‘fifth’ line in practice yesterday. Perhaps he was banged up vs. the Barracuda on Saturday. We’re told the situation isn’t long term; we’re not expecting him in tonight.
Meanwhile, defenseman Jacob Moverare, who has been up with Los Angeles for much of the past week, will rejoin the Reign tonight since the Kings don’t play again until Wednesday. Expect to see him on the top D-pair alongside Clarke.
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. TUCSON ROADRUNNERS
Madden – Tynan – Fagemo
Pinelli – Maltsev – Hudon
Ward – Turcotte – Thomas
Lee – Helenius – Doty
Other options include: Chromiak, Francis, Hodgson
Moverare – Clarke
Nousiainen – Connauton
Krygier – Wylie
Other options include: Hicketts, Inamoto, Santini
Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm Pacific Time and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
Game day graphic via ALo Images
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