After winning a high-scoring game against San Jose on Friday, the Ontario Reign is set to host the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday.
On Saturday, the Ontario Reign (14-5-0-1) will stay home and face the Tucson Roadrunners (9-9-2-0) in their first meeting since a penalty-filled game back on November 13th – and their third against each other this season.
The two Pacific Division rivals split the first two, with Tucson handing the Reign their first regulation loss of the season back on November 12th with an 8-4 win.
Both games were high-scoring affairs with the teams combining for 21 goals in the two games.
Tale of the Tape
ONT: 23.9% (3rd)
TUC: 15.5% (27th)
ONT: 73.9% (30th)
TUC: 80.2% (23rd)
Goals Per Game
Goals Against Per Game
ONT: Martin Frk – 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points (1.25 points per game)
TUC: Mattias Maccelli – 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points (0.95 points per game)
Here are three things to watch for on Friday:
1. Emotional affair?
Just over a month ago, the Reign knocked off the Roadrunners 6-3 in Tucson, but that was hardly the story of the game.
The two teams combined for 91 penalty minutes on 24 penalties. Things were somewhat calm through most of the game until the final few minutes when Jacob Doty, Austin Wagner, and Travis Barron all received misconduct penalties.
Shortly after, former Ontario forward Boko Imama picked up a 5-minute major for roughing which eventually lead to goaltender Garret Sparks getting involved in a scrum as he was handed two different penalties on the play.
Imama was a fan favorite during his four seasons in Ontario, providing the same edge and physicality he brought for the Roadrunners in the two team’s first meeting. I wouldn’t expect him to change that in his first game back in Ontario.
With Villalta getting Friday’s game against San Jose, it stands to reason that Sparks will get the Roadrunners again on Saturday. We’ll see if there is any spillover from November.
2. Struggling guests
The Roadrunners enter Saturday’s game on a three-game losing streak after dropping one to the Stockton Heat and two in a row to the Henderson Silver Knights.
Tucson has scored just four goals during this three-game losing streak. This isn’t too much of a surprise as they’ve scored the third-fewest goals in the AHL and have a power-play that is the fifth-worst, clicking at just 15.5%.
If the Reign can strike early as they did on Friday, Tucson is not a team built to chase the game.
3. Picking up where he left off
It’s been a little while since we’ve sung the praises of T.J. Tynan so I’ll take a moment to do that here.
The reigning AHL MVP was off to a blistering start with 17 points in his first 12 games this season.
His start earned him a call-up to LA earlier this month. He appeared in two games for the Kings and while he didn’t find his way onto the scoresheet, it was a well-deserved call for Ontario’s most important forward.
In his three games back with the Reign, he hasn’t missed a beat. After his three-point night on Friday, he has five points in those three games and was named the game’s first star against the Barracuda.
There’s a lot of firepower in Ontario, with the likes of Martin Frk lighting the lamp as often as he does and now with Quinton Byfield continuing to ramp up, but the 29-year-old Tynan has been and will continue to be a vital part of the team’s success.
The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT and can be seen on AHLTV.