After Wednesday’s win, the Ontario Reign plays the first of a back-to-back against the Colorado Eagles on Friday.
Tale of the tape:
COL: 18.1% (25th)
ONT: 26.1% (1st)
COL: 78.6% (24th)
ONT: 76.7% (27th)
COL: 200 (7th)
ONT: 224 (1st)
COL: 177 (12th)
ONT: 178 (14th)
COL: Kiefer Sherwood – 28 goals, 30 assists, 58 points
ONT: T.J. Tynan – 13 goals, 70 assists, 83 points
Three things to watch for on Friday:
1. Roster update
On Wednesday, we saw freshly signed Samuel Helenius make his AHL debut with the Ontario Reign. The next day, Ontario made it official with newly signed goaltender David Hrenak and forward Andre Lee, adding them to the roster.
Lee could have a chance to slot in. Between that amount of forwards in Los Angeles and the injuries to Martin Frk, Alex Turcotte, and Tyler Madden, the forward group is a make-shift bunch at the moment.
I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a debut for defenseman Kim Nousiainen.
2. Streaking Eagles
The Colorado Eagles have punched their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs as well, currently sitting in third in the Pacific Division. The Eagles, six points behind the Reign, helped keep Ontario’s division hopes alive by beating the Stockton Heat 2-1 on Wednesday. The win was the third in a row for Colorado as they ended the month of March 7-3-1.
Friday will be just the second meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Reign winning 4-3 way back on November 7th. Former Eagle T.J. Tynan was not a part of that game as he had been called up to Los Angeles just two days prior. This will be his first meeting against the team he won the AHL MVP with last season.
Ontario and Colorado will meet five times in April.
3. Villalta’s workload
The 22-year-old netminder has played in 37 games so far this season, including each of the Reign’s last five games. I had thought last Sunday’s game as the second of a back-to-back would have been a good spot to give him a rest, but Villalta got the nod.
With Friday being the first of a back-to-back, and the Reign having plenty of backup options, we’ll see if Villalta gets the call.
Coming into the 2021-22 season, Villalta had played a combined 40 games over two seasons and hasn’t played in this many games in one season since his 51 games in 2018-19 in the OHL.
After a 12 game stretch beginning on January 14th where Villalta had just three games where he allowed three or more goals, he has now allowed three goals or more in eight of his last 11, four of those with more than three.
Ontario has 11 games in April, including three sets of back-to-backs. It will be important to find the Kingston, ON native opportunity to rest heading into playoffs.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm PT and can be seen on AHLTV.