The Ontario Reign clinch a playoff spot with a point but fall short in overtime as the Canucks win 4-3.

Goal Breakdown:

First period:

ABB: Linus Karlsson (22) ASST: Justin Dowling (33), Tristen Nielsen (25)

Second period: 

ABB: Linus Karlsson (23) ASST: Jack Rathbone (9), John Stevens (12)

ONT: Lias Andersson (29) ASST: Tobie Bisson (12), T.J. Tynan (67)

Third period: 

ONT: Cole Krygier (1) ASST: T.J. Tynan (68), Lias Andersson (26)

ONT: Alex Laferriere (1) ASST: Jacob Moverare (21), Helge Grans (7)

ABB: Kyle Rau (16) ASST: Tristen Nielsen (26), Justin Dowling (34)


ABB: Jet Woo (7) ASST: Tristen Nielsen (27), Arsheep Bains (25)



ABB: 4

ONT: 3


ABB: 27

ONT: 34


ABB: 0/2

ONT: 0/2

Here are the three takeaways from Friday’s 4-3 loss:

The Arrival of Alex Laferriere

Drafted 83rd in the 2020 draft, Laferriere has been a player that many people in the LA Kings sphere of influence have been watching closely. Since his draft year, he played two seasons at Harvard University, tallying 35 goals and 73 points in his 69 games with the school. Suffice it to say, there was excitement when he joined the Ontario Reign’s roster at the conclusion of the collegiate season. It would seem that the hype around him is real.

He has looked really good in the three games that he has played for Ontario and this first professional goal is just sweet, for lack of a better term. Not to mention that it broke the tie between the teams, showing that he has the skill set to be a game-changer. Congratulations to Alex are in order as it looks like his pro career is off to a pretty good start.

Goaltending is concerning still, especially now

The Ontario Reign have a goaltending problem, and rehashing all of it does nothing for this post-game. Matt Villalta didn’t play an exceptional game for the Reign, posting an .852 save percentage to go with his 3.98 GAA. The overtime winner was indicative of the goaltending woes the Reign have dealt with for a while. On the rush, Nielsen got defender Cole Krygier to overcommit and dropped an easy pass to Jett Woo who blasted the goal home just to the left of Villalta. It was a low shot that, if he had extended, he might have saved. It looks to this writer like a bad positional choice rather than an excellent shot and that’s kind of how it’s been for Ontario as the season has gone on.

Villalta has started just four contests since February, his GAA being 3.55 over those starts. In those starts, he has had a sub .900 Save percentage in all but one of those games, that game being the only game he made more than 20 saves as well. Villalta and Cal Petersen as a goaltending tandem will have to really push forward to give the Reign a good chance in the playoffs.

Silver linings

Speaking of the playoffs, the Reign punched their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs with this loss, setting them up for a play-in round under the new AHL rules. The Pacific Division has three play-in series and a team with a first-round bye, so the standings aren’t quite set yet.

This is the Reign’s second straight trip to the playoffs, losing last year in a fairly brutal sweep against the Colorado Eagles. Speaking of, if the Eagles don’t jump in the standings, the Reign will be looking to seek revenge for last year in the second round. A team that struggles with consistency like Ontario is going to be tested as they will have to be good in a best-of-three opening series. The Reign’s recent 10-game losing streak is cause for concern as the team gets set for the postseason. As a silver lining, more hockey is never a bad thing!

UP NEXT: The Ontario Reign will return to action tonight as they take on the Abbotsford Canucks for the second game of the back-to-back. The game starts at 7 pm PT and can be seen on AHLTV.

Featured image credit: Abbotsford Canucks

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