The Ontario Reign will try to end their three-game losing streak when they host the Bakersfield Condors on Sunday.
In the second game of a five-game homestand, the Ontario Reign welcomes the Bakersfield Condors to Toyota Arena. It hasn’t been long since the last time these two teams met, with Bakersfield winning 4-3 in overtime last Wednesday.
The Reign have lost three in a row for the first time this season, while the Condors haven’t lost a game in regulation since a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Eagles on December 11th, picking up points in four straight.
This will be the fifth time Ontario and Bakersfield will have gotten together, with the Reign winning 3 of them.
Entering Sunday, Ontario sits in second place in the Pacific Division at 14-6-2-1 while Bakersfield is in 7th at 8-8-2-3.
Tale of the Tape
ONT: 23.7% (2nd)
BAK: 18.4% (17th)
ONT: 72.6% (30th)
BAK: 82.8% (11th)
Goals Per Game
Goals Against Per Game
ONT: Martin Frk – 13 goals, 14 assists, 27 points (1.17 points per game)
BAK: Seth Griffith – 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points (1.10 points per game)
Here are three things to watch for on Wednesday:
1. Back to back for Bakersfield
The Condors were in action on Saturday, a 3-2 overtime loss in Henderson. Stuart Skinner started in goal for Bakersfield against Silver Knights, so there’s a chance that rookie Olivier Rodrigue will get the nod between the pipes against the Reign. Rodrigue has seen Ontario twice this season but hasn’t been able to beat them. Most recently, he stopped 32 of 34 shots against in a shootout loss to the Reign on December 4th.
Ontario has had a hard time containing Seth Griffith this season. In the four meetings, Griffith has five goals and an assist – including a goal and an assist when the two teams played last Wednesday. Three of those five goals have come with the man advantage. He also picked up two assists on Saturday.
Bakersfield is 2-3 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.
2. Two in a row for Sparks?
Garret Sparks played in Ontario’s 4-1 loss to Henderson on Friday, so usually, this game would be Matt Villalta’s. However, the 22-year-old Kingston, ON native was unavailable against the Silver Knights, and the Reign needed to sign EBUG Billy Blase.
Sparks started the season strong, winning his first four starts – including a 35 save effort against the Condors on October 22nd. Since then, however, it’s been a bit of a struggle (his win for the Kings in Washington not included). In his last four starts for the Reign, he has gone 0-4 and has allowed 18 goals.
There has been no word on the status of Villalta just yet. We’ll find out Sunday.
3. Unlucky Condors?
By now, you may be familiar with the statistic PDO. If you’re not, it combines a team’s shooting percentage and their save percentage to come up with a rough determination of the type of puck luck a team is getting.
Bakersfield has the second-lowest shooting percentage in the league at 8.35%, and when combined with their .892 team save percentage, that gives them an AHL-low .975 PDO.
For context, the league-average shooting percentage is 10.06% (per Quanthockey.com). Ontario has the second-highest at 13.25. And for PDO, 1.000 is considered average. Ontario has a PDO of 102.7, not too surprising given their high shooting percentage.
While it may be reasonable to expect Bakersfield’s shooting percentage to come up from the bottom of the league, their save percentage may not. No, the goaltending has not been great this season, but they’ve also seen a heavy workload (chart courtesy of Sean O’Brien tableau):
Their goaltenders have been among the busiest in the league, something that Ontario will try to continue on Sunday.
Bakersfield is also the least penalized team in the AHL, so they aren’t going to be a team that shoots themselves in the foot with penalties.
Overall, it’s a game Ontario should control at even strength. The Condors’ 17th-best powerplay isn’t necessarily a threat, but they’ve contributed to the Reign’s penalty-killing struggles this season with a power-play goal in each meeting so far.
Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT and can be seen on AHLTV.