Ontario Reign

The Ontario Reign and Abbotsford Canucks played their sixth one-goal game of the season, with Abbotsford picking up the win.

The Abbotsford Canucks edged the Ontario Reign in another one-goal game on Monday in Ontario, 2-1 in a shootout.

Phil Di Giuseppe scored the lone goal in the shootout while Arturs Silovs stopped Gabriel Vilardi and Tyler Madden, and Quinton Byfield rang his attempt of the post to clinch the win for Abbotsford.

After a scoreless first period, the Reign would get on the board just 93 seconds into the second. Jordan Spence threw a puck toward the front of the net that found its way past Silovs to give the Reign a 1-0 lead:

The goal was initially credited to Cameron Gaunce, but Spence eventually got credit for it. Spence now has goals in back-to-back games and points in six straight.

Ontario took the 1-0 lead into the third period but the final 20 minutes were all Abbotsford. The visitors outshot the Reign 11-4 and would tie the game 7:24 into the period.

Sheldon Dries has killed the Reign this season with seven goals and nine points in the first six games. His goal tied the game on Monday:

In overtime, Ontario did get a power-play after Will Lockwood took a slashing penalty with 2:42 remaining. The Reign used Byfield, Vilardi, Spence, and T.J. Tynan as the four-man power-play and spent the entire two minutes in the zone. However, the puck stayed on the perimeter most of the time, and there weren’t too many good looks at a winning goal despite the zone time.

Matt Villalta made 37 saves in the loss while Silovs stopped 22.

Ontario slips to 18-6-3-2, Abbotsford gets back to .500 at 12-12-3-1.

Here are three takeaways after Monday’s game:

1. Three straight for Villalta

This wasn’t just three straight starts for the Kingston-born Villalta, but three straight very good starts. He has a .946 save percentage in the last three games while going 2-0-0-1.

Monday was just the second game this season that Villalta gave up less than two goals, with the other coming back on October 23rd against San Diego.

Last season, Villalta allowed four or more goals in nine games – half of the 18 games he played. In five of those games, he allowed five goals or more. In his 17 games this season, he’s allowed at least four goals on four occasions and five once. There’s no question we’re seeing an improved Matt Villalta. The question now will be if he can continue to be this steady on a consistent basis.

2. Special Teams shut out

For just the third time this season, neither team scored a power-play goal. Each team’s power-play went 0-5, including a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime for the Reign. Abbotsford had a good opportunity of their own late in the game but was unable to convert on a 5-on-3 with less than five minutes to play in the third period.

The Ontario Reign entered the game with the AHL’s second-best power-play unit, clicking at 26.5%. While Abbotsford’s power-play isn’t exactly something to fear (ranked 15th entering the game), with the Reign’s 30th ranked penalty kill, it’s not often we see a game without a goal on Special Teams.

This was the first game since December 10th that both power-play units were held off the scoresheet.

3. Frk unavailable

Martin Frk was activated off of NHL’s COVID protocol over the weekend and subsequently sent to Ontario. While he didn’t play on Monday, the Czech winger could be back this weekend.

The 29-year-old last played for the Reign on January 2nd, picking up two assists. He dressed for two games with the Kings while in Los Angeles, scoring one goal. Frk had been assigned to the NHL Taxi Squad.

His 14 goals are still a team-high and are the sixth most in the AHL.

Ontario is back in action on Saturday in the first of a home back-to-back with the Tucson Roadrunners.

Leave a Reply

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