The Ontario Reign and San Diego Gulls square off for the final time in the 2021-2022 season tonight at Pechanga Arena.
Tale of the tape:
ONT: 26.9% (1st)
SD: 19.6% (14th)
ONT: 76.4% (28th)
SD: 80.7% (16th)
ONT: 244 (1st)
SD: 181 (29th)
ONT: 199 (15th)
SD: 196 (14th)
ONT: T.J. Tynan – 13 goals, 78 assists, 91 points
SD: Lucas Elvenes – 10 goals, 28 assists, 38 points
Three things to watch for in tonight’s matchup:
1. T.J. Tynan chasing assist record
It’s no surprise that the prize of the offseason for the Ontario Reign last summer was T.J. Tynan. In 11 games against their Southern California rivals, Tynan has two goals and 17 assists, which is good enough for 19 points. The reigning AHL MVP has been just as advertised for the Reign this season. Tynan, the leading scorer in the AHL, has 91 points this season and 78 of those points are assists.
As the season draws to a close for the Ontario Reign, so does Tynan’s chase for most assists in a season. The record for most assists held in a season is by George “Red” Sullivan with 89 assists. That feat was accomplished in the 1953-1954 season. Tynan currently has 78 assists on the season with only five games remaining. He needs 13 assists to break the record that has stood for the last 67 seasons. If Tynan can continue his dominance over the Gulls tonight, he should inch closer to the record. Do you think Tynan breaks the record?
2. Final showdown
Tonight is the 12th and final meeting of the season between the two clubs. Ontario owns the head-to-head matchup with an 8-3-0-0 record against San Diego this season. Ironically, all three of the Ontario Reign’s losses this season against the San Diego Gulls have been in San Diego. Pechanga Arena hasn’t been a friendly place to the Reign this season; it’s where they got shut out for the first time all season back on March 12th.
All season these two teams have given us some memorable matchups. The games have been either close, gritty, tough, physical, or exhausting. I would expect nothing less in tonight’s game. Perhaps these two may see each other in round one of the playoffs in a few weeks.
3. Magic number
As the schedule winds down, the Ontario Reign’s magic number continues to shrink. Currently, in second place, the Reign got some help in the standings last night because both the Stockton Heat and Colorado Eagles lost in regulation. The Reign now trails the Stockton Heat by five points for first place in the division and extended their lead to eight points over the Colorado Eagles, who are in third place.
The magic number for the Reign to clinch the second seed is two points (which is equivalent to one win). If that win comes tonight, the Reign will lock up the second seed with four games remaining. Chasing the first seed is a bit more complicated. Stockton is up five points on the Reign in the standings and has a game in hand on the Reign as well. Stockton needs just six points (equivalent to 3 wins) to clinch the number one seed in the division. Remember, the first seed gets a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Ontario Reign, the mindset should be one game at a time. Win today and you automatically clinch the second seed. That should be the focus heading into tonight’s game.
The puck drops at 7:00 PM PT and can be seen on AHLTV.
(Main photo credit: San Diego Gulls)