Can the Reign turn things around?
They have just one victory in their past seven games.
Despite the return of Brandt Clarke, Alex Turcotte, and Sammy Fagemo from the NHL for Friday night’s matchup with Colorado, the result was the same. Another loss and too many penalties — none of which pleased coach Marco Sturm.
“Unfortunately we made exactly the same mistakes,” he said of Ontario’s second straight lost to the Eagles. “We talked about it, and we did it again. That’s the most disappointing part; the repeat of the same thing again. If you do that, you’re not going to win hockey games.”
He later added, “When you’re in a slump like this, I think our best players have to be our best players. As of late, they weren’t.”
Balancing his disappointment with some of his bigger names, Sturm was equally impressed with his young fourth line on Friday.
“They just went out there and worked,” he noted. “You can’t rely on those young kids [to drive the play, though]. So, now we have one more chance before the break to show what we got.”
Like he has been most of the season, Turcotte was already locked in on the task at hand and offered these thoughts about facing Calgary:
“They’re heavy and they check well,” he began. “They defend the paint really well and they’re tough. [They’re] kind of oh a little different than Colorado — who is a lot up and down, and they’re still really physical; but, I think Calgary is more of a shutdown team. Obviously, they have some good offensive players, as well. But they’re really good defensively, and big and mean. We need to bounce back and hopefully get a big win before the break and kind of turn things around.”
In order to do that, one key to tonight’s game will be the start. Ontario has come out flat in too many games of late, being outshot by a combined 53-20 in their past four contests. Overall the Reign are just 1-8-3 when trailing after the first period. Thus, they’ll need to show some offensive life over the first 20 minutes to put themselves in a potential winning situation.
Lineup wise, Sturm flipped his top two right wings mid-game last night, saying he didn’t like what he was seeing. It worked for a while, so we’re expecting him to go back to it tonight. Meaning, Akil Thomas is presumed to be playing right wing up top, while Sammy Fagemo slots in at RW2 alongside Turcotte. Moving Martin Chromiak around is also an option, as he was playing RW1 while Fagemo was up with the Kings.
Rookie Erik Portillo is expected to start in goal. He’s 1-1 vs. Calgary this season, having stopped a combined 52-of-55 shots faced.
Defenseman Brandt Clarke will be off to San Jose starting tomorrow. He’ll compete in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, followed by the All-Star Game on Monday. Both events will be televised by NHL Network.
Meanwhile, we’re hearing Jacob Moverare will draw back in after missing several weeks due to injury. He’s expected to pair up with Clarke on the top defensive unit. We’ll have to wait until warmups to get a better sense of how Sturm will piece together the remaining four blueliners.
REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. WRANGLERS
Hudon – Tynan – Thomas
Ward – Turcotte – Fagemo
Madden – Helenius – Chromiak
Young – Pinelli – Francis
Moverare – Clarke
Krygier – Connauton
Nousiainen – Santini
Other roster options include: (F) Hodgson and (D) Haiskanen, Wylie
Injured: Doty, Lee (out until March), Hicketts, Inamoto
Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm Pacific Time and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
Game day graphic via ALoImages
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