The Reign return home for the first time since December 18th as they take on Pacific Division Rival Henderson Silver Knights on Friday.

In the Ontario Reign’s first game back after multiple game postponements, they lost 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night in Bakersfield. On Friday, the last game of the 2021 calendar year, they’ll play host to a Henderson Silver Knights team who have had their last two games postponed due to COVID-19 – one of them against the Reign on Wednesday, December 22nd. Henderson hasn’t played since Sunday, December 19th.

The Reign enter Friday’s game losers of two straight – but both coming in overtime, so they’ve managed to pick up a couple of points.

This will be just the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Ontario won the first game 5-2 back in early November.

Tale of the Tape

Powerplay

ONT: 24.5% (2nd)

HSK: 20.2% (12th)

Penalty Kill

ONT: 72.8% (30th)

HSK: 82.2% (12th)

Goals Per Game

ONT: 3.91

HSK: 2.95

Goals Against Per Game

ONT: 3.09

HSK: 2.59

Key Players

ONT: Martin Frk – 14 goals, 13 assists, 27 points (1.23 points per game)

HSK: Pavel Dorofeyev –  9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points (0.73 points per game)

Here are three things to watch for on Friday:

1. Roster update

As has been the case across the hockey world, there have been several transactions in the Los Angeles Kings organization.

On Thursday, the Kings announced that Vladimir Tkachev and Jacob Moverare would be called up to Los Angeles. In addition, Quinton Byfield was activated off of the COVID list and assigned to the Ontario Reign.

So, where does that leave the current roster?

As of this writing, the Reign has 16 forwards and eight defensemen. Of those 16 forwards, however, seven of those were unavailable on Wednesday. Johan Sodergran, Austin Wagner, Akil Thomas, and Brayden Burke have all missed multiple games due to injury; there has not been any official announcement as to the absences of Tyler Madden and T.J. Tynan, and Byfield was in the NHL’s COVID protocol.

Of the eight defensemen, three of them are recent ECHL signees, and another is Helge Grans, who is making his way back from his abbreviated World Junior Championships with Sweden.

All this to say – it’s one big guessing game as to what the lineup will ultimately look like. Though Tkachev and Moverare were called up to LA, it’s conceivable that they could be in the Reign lineup on Friday.

Don’t be surprised if we see some additional player movement on Friday.

*Update*

The Kings have announced on Friday that Tkachev and Moverare have been loaned back to Ontario:

2. Byfield’s return?

Noted in the above transactions is the assignment of Byfield to Ontario. He had just been activated off of COVID protocol, so there’s a possibility that he wasn’t quite ready for Thursday’s game in LA, and they opted for a paper transaction to free up roster space. The Kings do play again on Saturday.

On the other hand, with Phillip Danault also returning from COVID protocol and in Thursday’s lineup and Alex Turcotte playing in his second game, Byfield may be in Ontario to get some more game action. After all, he’s only played four games in the 2021-22 season.

In those four games, the 6-foot-4 centerman has six shots on goal and has yet to register a point. Playing in all situations, he has looked effective, and his skating has been a threat both on the penalty kill as well as 5-on-5. Unfortunately, he landed on COVID protocol just as he had gotten a handful of games under his belt and was called up to Los Angeles. If he does suit up Friday, it won’t be long before he’s in LA for good.

3. Home cookin’

Friday’s game is the first of a five-game homestand, the second such stretch of home games this season for the Reign. The first of which was the first five games of the season when they started 4-0-0-1. Ontario has averaged four goals per game on home ice, and their 8-1-1-1 record at Toyota Arena is the 3rd best home winning percentage in the AHL.

Additionally, Wednesday’s loss was just the second time the Ontario Reign have dropped two games in a row this season. The only other time was in a back-to-back set in Abbotsford on November 30 and December 1. They have yet to drop three in a row during the 2021-22 season.

Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. PT and can be seen on AHLTV.

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