In the final home game of the regular season, the Ontario Reign will host the San Diego Gulls in the two teams’ second of three matchups this week.
Tale of the tape:
SD: 19.8% (12th)
ONT: 26.9% (1st)
SD: 80.9% (14th)
ONT: 76.1% (28th)
SD: 181 (29th)
ONT: 241 (1st)
SD: 193 (13th)
ONT: 199 (15th)
ONT: T.J. Tynan – 13 goals, 77 assists, 90 points
SD: Lucas Elvenes – 10 goals, 28 assists, 38 points
Three things to watch for on Friday:
1. A rest for Villalta?
It has been 10-straight starts for Reign starting goaltender Matthew Villalta. With the playoffs around the corner and another set of back-to-back games here on Friday and Saturday, we could see Villalta get a breather.
During this stretch, Villalta is 5-3-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. Numbers that are below his season statistics.
If Villalta does get a break, we’d likely see newcomer David Hrenak get his first AHL action. He has served as Villalta’s backup in each of the last three games.
2. Is Helge healthy?
A notable absence from Wednesday’s game was top defenseman Helge Grans. The 19-year-old was out due to injury, though it isn’t believed to be serious:
— Hockey Royalty (@Hockey_Royalty) April 14, 2022
With injuries and call-ups, the defense group has seen several new faces. While it’s more important to have Grans rested and ready for the playoffs, his return to the lineup will be a relief, whenever that may be.
3. Blueline contributions
The Ontario Reign has had a next-man-up approach all season and that has continued lately. In the last three games, Reign defensemen have accounted for three goals and seven assists. The team as a whole scored 13 goals during that time.
Christian Wolanin has done the most damage, picking up a goal and three assists in the last three. But the team has also seen contributions from each of the other defensemen, including Kim Nousiainen‘s first career point in Ontario’s 6-5 win over Stockton.
It’s been said before, with so many regulars out, contributions need to come from other parts of the lineup. The defensemen are doing their part.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm PT and can be seen on AHLTV.
(Main photo credit: Ontario Reign)