Six days after Quinton Byfield’s overtime winner, the Ontario Reign return to action on Saturday against the San Diego Gulls.

Despite losing three of their last five games, the Ontario Reign have points in four of those games, including picking up two points in their last game on Sunday’s overtime win over Bakersfield. On Saturday, the Reign will welcome their rivals in the San Diego Gulls to Toyota Arena.

San Diego will be playing the back half of a back-to-back after picking up a win against the Stockton Heat on Friday.

It will be the fifth meeting of the season between the two Southern California teams, with Ontario taking three of the first four.

The Reign are 15-6-2-1 and sit in second place in the Pacific Division. San Diego is 9-12-1 and has the worst record in the Western Conference.

Tale of the Tape

Powerplay

ONT: 23.8% (2nd)

SD: 17.5% (18th)

Penalty Kill

ONT: 73.2% (30th)

SD: 84.0% (7th)

Goals Per Game

ONT: 3.75

SD: 2.57

Goals Against Per Game

ONT: 3.08

SD: 3.09

Key Players

ONT: T.J. Tynan 5 goals, 20 assists, 25 points (1.39 points per game)

SD: Brayden Tracey 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points (0.83 points per game)

Here are three things to watch for on Saturday:

1. Low scoring Gulls

Not too surprising, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference is struggling to score goals this season. Only one team in the AHL has scored fewer goals than the Gulls, and their 2.57 goals per game are also 30th in the AHL.

Perhaps the best way to keep San Diego off the board is to keep them at 5-on-5. 29.3% of the Gulls’ goals this season have come on the powerplay. That is the fifth-most reliant number in the AHL (per QuantHockey).

I recently wrote about what I see as issues with the Reign penalty kill. The best way to avoid those is to stay out of the box altogether. Of the eight goals San Diego has scored against Ontario this season, three of them – or 37.5% – have come with the man advantage.

2. No Mo, Frk

Two key players for the Reign this season have been Martin Frk and Jacob Moverare, and both are currently in Los Angeles.

Frk leads Ontario with 14 goals and 29 points. He is also second in the AHL in goals, powerplay goals, and third in overall points. He earned his call up with the Kings and made the most of his opportunity, scoring a goal in his first game in the NHL this season.

Moverare has been steady on the blueline for the Reign. A sound defensive-defenseman, he’s chipped in three goals and eight points in his 22 games in the AHL. He played 14:18 in his NHL debut on Thursday against Nashville, registering one shot on goal.

We saw Samuel Fagemo play alongside Tynan in the Reign’s last game, and he could be a beneficiary of Frk’s time in LA. With the left-shot Moverare with the Kings, Christian Kasastul could also see another opportunity to drawback in the lineup.

Both players are on the NHL taxi squad, but with a number of players still in the NHL’s COVID protocol, both are expected to be in Los Angeles on Saturday.

3. Better second period

In the last three games, the Reign have been outscored 7-1 in the second period. They let a lead slip away in the first of those three games against Bakersfield while giving up three to Henderson and another two to the Condors in the last of the three.

On average, Ontario has been outshot 15-9 in the middle 20 minutes.

Earlier this season, it was slow starts the Ontario Reign were struggling with, but their opportunistic goal scoring and powerplay were bailing out some of those early struggles. Now, the power play is still effective, but it has regressed a bit to a more realistic number.

Couple that with the number of players lost due to injury, illness, or player call-ups, they haven’t been able to overcome some of the bad stretches in games as easily.

The puck drops at 6 p.m. PT and can be seen on AHLTV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *