The Ontario Reign takes on the Stockton Heat tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, looking to complete the weekend sweep.
Tale of the tape
ONT: 27.1% (1st)
STK: 19.1% (14th)
ONT: 75.8% (29th)
STK: 89.5% (1st)
ONT: 156 (1st)
STK: 129 (9th)
ONT: 115 (11th)
STK: 94 (1st)
ONT: TJ Tynan – 8 goals, 42 assists, 50 points
STK: Matthew Phillips – 18 goals, 19 assists, 37 points
Three things to watch for in tonight’s game:
1. Special teams
The number one power play will square off against the number one penalty kill. Special teams have been a factor in all five meetings between the two clubs this season.
Unfortunately, Stockton’s number one ranked penalty kill has had the upper hand against the Ontario Reign’s number one ranked power play.
The Ontario Reign power play is just 2-for-17 (11.8%) against Stockton’s penalty kill this season, including an 0-for-6 game in January.
The Heat’s penalty kill seems to be the only team that has given the Reign’s power play trouble. If the Ontario Reign are looking to change that, tonight would be the time to break that trend.
2. Sweep Stockton
Beating the Stockton Heat on their home ice is hard. However, winning both in a two-game series in Stockton is even more challenging. The Heat’s record on home ice is 14-3-3-0, which is the second-best record in the AHL.
Stockton has not lost both games of a two-game series this season and has not lost back-to-back home games either. The Ontario Reign will try to be the first team to accomplish both of those tasks against the Stockton Heat and come out with a weekend sweep.
3. First place
Entering last night’s game, the Reign trailed the Heat by three points for first place in the Pacific division. After a 5-2 Reign win last night, they enter tonight’s contest one point behind the division-leading Heat.
If the Heat win, they extend their division lead, and if the Reign win, they take first place for the weekend. If the Reign wants to be in first place in the division heading into Bakersfield on Monday, they will have to complete the challenging task of taking two games in Stockton.
The previous five meetings against Stockton all had a playoff feel to the game, and tonight will be no different. We can expect another great battle between these two Pacific division heavyweights with first place on the line.
The puck drops tonight at 6:00 pm at Stockton Arena and can be seen on AHLTV.