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AHL

Eight Straight Wins for Ontario Reign

The Ontario Reign continued their winning ways this weekend, with two more regulation wins to sit second in the league with 19 points

Eight Straight Wins for Ontario Reign

ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign continued their winning ways this past weekend, with two more regulation wins to sit second in the league with 19 points. (The AHL uses points percentage to rank teams due to the differing amounts of games played by team, so though they have the most points of any teams, they’re second to Utica, who have yet to lose a game.)

SATURDAY

Their weekend started off against the Bakersfield Condors, who they had already beaten once this season, and the Reign came away with a 6-3 win. Martin Frk continues to be the MVP for Ontario, registering a point on four of the six Reign goals, scoring two of them. He both opened the scoring, 33 seconds into the game, and closed it, scoring the 6th goal of the night with less than five minutes left, as well as adding two assists on goals by Alex Turcotte and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Anderson-Dolan also had a strong night, with a goal and two assists, and Vladimir Tkachev had a two-assist night in his second game with the Reign. 

The Reign would end up with a 5-0 lead going into the third period, with goals also by Helge Grans and Aidan Dudas, and though the Condors managed to make it a 5-3 game with tallies from Vincent Desharnais and Seth Griffith (2), Frk’s second goal put the game on ice. 

The story of the season so far has been the Reign’s offense; they sit first in the entire AHL in goals for (with 42), but it’s also important to note that they’re also fourth-best in the league for goals against (with only 23). Last season, the Reign were a high-scoring team, but they also allowed more goals than almost any other team in the league. This season, they’re outscoring their opponents almost 2-1, and a big part of that is because of the goaltending the Reign are getting from all three of their netminders. Matt Villalta had 37 saves on 40 shots, one of Bakersfield’s goals coming on the power play, and he’s yet to be beaten this season. So far he has a record of 6-0 and a .927 save percentage. He has yet to allow more than three goals a game.

SUNDAY

On Sunday, the Reign welcomed the Colorado Eagles to town for the first time this season and sent them home with a loss. Frk added two more assists to give him 16 points on the season, enough to tie the league lead in scoring. Anderson-Dolan scored two more goals to give him five on the season, and Tkachev also registered two assists, giving him five in three games. With the recent call-up of TJ Tynan (13 points in eight games so far this season), it was easy to wonder where the offense would be coming from, but a 6 point weekend from Frk and a five-point weekend from Anderson-Dolan have catapulted them both into top 15 in scoring league-wide, both players at more than a point per game.

The Reign led for much of the game, just like Friday’s tilt, going into the third period with a 4-1 lead on goals by Turcotte, Dudas, and Anderson Dolan’s pair. Garret Sparks’ only misstep was an unassisted goal by Dennis Gilbert, his second of the season. The Eagles would go on to score twice in the third period, once in the seventh minute and again in the twelfth, both tallies by Jordan Gross, but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Reign, and the first meeting between these two teams ended in yet another win for Ontario, their ninth of the season. The Reign have yet to lose in regulation or overtime, their only loss coming in a shootout against the Abbotsford Canucks.

Something that’s been a concern for much of the season so far has been discipline and minor penalties. The Reign are eleventh in the league in PIMs, and their penalty kill is only 22nd, at just over 76%. It helps that their power play is red-hot, with 13 goals on 45 attempts, but eventually, the penalty kill is going to become a deterrent to their win streak if they don’t improve it or try to take fewer penalties. 

COMING UP

Next weekend, the Reign travel to Tucson to face the Roadrunners for the first time this season.

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