The Ontario Reign return home and welcome the Pacific Division’s top team, the Stockton Heat to Toyota Arena.
It feels like it’s been forever since the last time the Ontario Reign took the ice. In reality, it’s been over a week since their 6-3 win over the Tucson Roadrunners to improve their record to 10-1-0-1. Ontario has been atop the Western Conference’s Pacific Division for most of the season but currently sit behind their next opponent, the Stockton Heat. The Heat are 9-0-2 and are one of only two teams (Utica Comets) in the AHL who have yet to lose a game in regulation.
This will be the first meeting between the top two teams in the Western Conference and they’ll meet again on Monday night, as well.
Martin Frk leads the team in goals (9), assists (11), and points (20). The goals and points are also tied for the AHL lead.
With back-to-back road games beginning Sunday, I’d expect to see both Matt Villalta and Garrett Sparks get action. Villalta is coming off of his worst start of the year, allowing five goals on 11 shots in the Reign’s 8-4 loss to Tucson on Friday, November 12th. On the season, he is 6-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Sparks gave up three goals in relief of Villalta in the Roadrunners loss, but bounced back with a win the next night. He’s 4-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
The goaltending has been a strength for the Heat as the 24 goals allowed this season are the lowest in the Western Conference and second-lowest in the AHL. The Reign can expect to see both rookie Dustin Wolf, 5-0 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, and Adam Werner, 4-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
The Reign currently boast the best power-play in the league at 15-for-55 (27.3%). Frk’s 8 points with the man-advantage are tops on the team while Jaret Anderson-Dolan leads the team — and is tied for the league lead — with four power-play goals.
On the penalty kill, the Reign have killed 38-of-52 (73.1%). They have one short-handed goal on the season.
Stockton’s power-play is 10-for-42 (23.8%). Justin Kirkland, Jakob Pelletier, and Matthew Phillips each have two power-play goals to lead the Heat. Ruzicka’s four assists and five points with the man-advantage lead the team in those categories.
Not surprisingly, given the goaltending, the Heat have a strong penalty kill, allowing just seven goals on 46 power-play attempts (84.8%). They also have one short-handed goal.
Here’s how Ontario has fared in the shot-attempt department so far this season:
|2021-22||Shot Attempts For||Shot Attempts Against||CORSI||CF%|
|5 on 5||462||510||-48||48%|
|5 on 5 High Danger||157||155||2||50%|
- The Reign are expected to have some reinforcements in the lineup for this game. Gabe Vilardi is back in Ontario after being sent down last week by the Kings, as well as T.J. Tynan, who was utterly dominant to start the season before his call-up (three goals, 10 assists in eight games).
- Austin Strand is also back with Ontario. He was called up earlier this season after the injuries to Drew Doughty and Sean Walker on the Kings’ blueline. He’s replacing Sean Durzi, who joined Los Angeles on Friday. In four games with the Reign, Strand has a goal and an assist.
- Durzi will be tough to replace on the back-end. His five goals are tied for the AHL lead among defensemen and are second in the league in points with 13.
- This could be an opportunity for Jordan Spence to get a look on the first power-play unit. He’s had a quietly good start to the season and has picked up six assists on the season in 11 games, with three of those coming with the man advantage.
- Frk is currently riding a seven-game point streak (6 goals, 11 assists)
- Vladimir Tkachev will also look to stay hot, he has assists in every game he’s played with the Reign (nine in five games, four on the power-play).
- Nikita Pavlychev, who had not appeared in a regular-season game for the Reign, was loaned to the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Saturday.
- As a team, the Reign are shooting 14.9%, which is the second-highest in the AHL.
- At 5-on-5 this season, Ontario has outscored their opponents 32-19 and only once have they been outscored (Tucson outscored the Reign 5-4 at 5-on-5 in the Roadrunners 8-4 win).
Puck Drop and Broadcast Info
- Sunday, November 21 at 3:00 p.m. P.T.