The Ontario Reign return home for the first time in over two weeks for a Friday night matchup with the rival San Diego Gulls.

After Tuesday’s game in Bakersfield was postponed due to COVID-19 protocol hitting the Condors, the Ontario Reign are back at Toyota Arena for their third meeting of the season with the San Diego Gulls. The first two Ontario won in relatively comfortable fashion, 5-2 and 5-1.

Ontario enters the game in second place in the Pacific Division with a 12-4-0-1 record while Bakersfield sits in fifth place at 8-8-1.

It should be noted that this will be the first game of the foreseeable future the Reign will be playing without head coach John Wroblewski, who is taking a personal leave of absence. We extend our best wishes to him and his family during this time.

Tale of the Tape

Powerplay

ONT: 24.7% (2nd)

SD: 20.8% (10th)

Penalty Kill

ONT: 74.0% (30th)

SD: 80.8% (17th)

Goals Per Game

ONT: 4.00

SD: 2.82

Goals Against Per Game

ONT: 3.00

SD: 3.06

Key Players

ONT: Martin Frk – 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points (1.29 points per game)

SD: Jacob Perreault – 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points (0.88 points per game)

Here are three things to watch for on Friday:

1. Hot and Cold

It’s been an up and down season for the San Diego Gulls. They started the season going 1-4 in October before firing off a 7-3 stretch in November, which included five straight wins to end the month. December hasn’t been quite as kind yet, they’re 0-2 after back-to-back losses to the Stockton Heat.

Here’s a look at their rolling PDO (courtesy of Sean O’Brien Tableau):

They have a league-average shooting percentage at 10.06%, but their team save percentage is just .891 as goaltending has been a problem this season for the Gulls. With Ontario a team averaging four goals per game and a streaky San Diego team coming off two losses, it could be a good opportunity for the Reign to put some pucks in the net.

2. (High) Danger Zone

In the two games earlier this season, the shot attempts overall were pretty close. However, where they weren’t close was in the high-danger area:

vs San Diego Shot Attempts For Shot Attempts Against CORSI CF%
All Strengths 120 118 -2 50.4%
5v5 100 109 -9 48.5%
All Strengths HD 50 33 17 56.8%
5v5 HD 41 32 9 56.2%

The Reign dominated that part of the ice, which aided in them scoring ten goals in two games.

High Danger attempts are something San Diego goaltending is used to. As we see here, the Gulls goaltending is getting poor results, but they are often very busy (via Sean O’Brien Tableau):

If Ontario can generate chances in the slot against a team with shaky goaltending, it bodes well for the hosts.

3. Time for Turcotte

Amid calls to bring the former fifth overall pick up to the Kings, the reality is Alex Turcotte has just one point in his last five games (an assist in the Reign’s most recent win at Abbotsford) and has gone six-straight games without a goal. The production hasn’t quite been as hoped to date, however, his defensive play is very encouraging for a young forward. Per Defensive Point Shares (via Sean O’Brien Tableau), he’s second only to Samuel Fagemo on the Ontario Reign.

As outlined above, though, what better time for Turcotte to break out of his goal-scoring slump against a team who is giving up a lot of chances – particularly chances in prime scoring areas – and have goaltending that’s been unable to sustain a .900 save percentage through the first 17 games of the season. He’s someone that will score his goals in the low slot as the 20-year-old forward is more than willing to get his nose dirty. We’ll see if it pays off against the Gulls.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. PT on Friday and can be seen on AHLTV.

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