With a somewhat depleted roster, the Ontario Reign are in Tucson this weekend for a back-to-back set of games beginning on Friday night.
In three previous contests with the Roadrunners this season, coach Marco Sturm’s group has managed just one victory. However, it’s been a trio of one-goal games and one of them required overtime. So, the two clubs have played things close.
Their most recent matchup came just after Thanksgiving at Toyota Arena. Although Akil Thomas had a goal in that one, the Reign ultimately lost 2-1. The real story that evening was goalie David Rittich giving up three goals on six shots in the first period, followed by rookie Erik Portillo taking over in net and stopping all 15 shots he faced. The latter is expected back in net tonight.
From what we’re hearing, recently signed veteran Aaron Dell is scheduled to make his Reign debut tomorrow night.
Aaron Dell getting some work in at Reign practice… pic.twitter.com/FhpxXbhBc3
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) January 23, 2024
On the injury front, forward Andre Lee is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury. He left a game vs. Bakersfield last weekend after a nasty tumble into the boards while getting tangled up with a Condors defenseman. It’s unfortunate timing too, as Lee has recently been getting an elevated role in Sturm’s lineup. We’ve long trumpeted the big man’s underrated skills and will be curious to see his impact on the ice when he returns for a playoff push later this year.
In his absence, Sturm was testing out a reconfigured third line at practice this week. Kings prospect Sammy Helenius was moved up to 3C, a spot he’s played a few times this season. Joining him at left wing was Tyler Madden.
This also resulted in Akil Thomas being bumped up and reunited with Alex Turcotte. The duo were a highly effective pair earlier this season — including producing fantastic puck retrieval analytics. It will be interesting to see how quickly they can rekindle some magic.
Fellow Kings prospect Franky Pinelli will slide back to centering the fourth line, as well.
On defense, Jacob Moverare remains sidelined. As we noted recently, he’s basically day-to-day, yet he isn’t quite ready to return.
Sammy Fagemo and Brandt Clarke remain up with the Kings on their current road trip.
REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. ROADRUNNERS
Hudon – Tynan – Chromiak
Ward – Turcotte – Thomas
Madden – Helenius – Hodgson
Pavlychev – Pinelli – Francis
Connauton – Haiskanen
Krygier – Santini
Nousiainen – Wylie
Other roster options include: (F) Young and (D) Inamoto, Martin, (G) Ingham
Injured: Doty, Lee, Hicketts (undisclosed), Moverare
Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm Pacific Time and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
Game day graphic via ALoImages
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com