A Look Around the AHL
Since it’s been a while since we last checked in on the Reign, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up around the American Hockey League for Ontario.
We all know that the Kings are struggling and it seems that those struggles have carried down to their AHL affiliate. Prior to puck drop for Saturday’s game against the Colorado Eagles, the Reign sit second to last in the Pacific division with 22 points, ahead of only the San Diego Gulls. (Hey at least we’re ahead of the Ducks’ AHL team.)
These standings could change quickly during this weekend’s games, as Stockton faces off against the Bakersfield Condors at the same time as the Reign play Colorado, and San Diego squares off against San Jose.
Other stats of note: leading scorers for the Reign include Sheldon Rempal with 20 points (8G, 12A) and Matt Moulson with 18 points (6G, 12A). Defensive scoring leaders for the Reign are Sean Walker* with 17 points (6G, 11A) and Matt Roy with 16 points (5G, 11A).
The power play and penalty kill for Ontario are ranked seventeenth and eighteenth respectively in the league. The power play is operating at 19.2% efficiency while the PK is at 79.8%.
*Sean Walker is currently up with the big club
Ontario Reign (3) - Colorado Eagles (4) - OT
The holiday party got started early as just 106 seconds into the game, the Reign took advantage of a loose rebound from a sharp angle shot by Kale Clague, which Matt Moulson was able to push over the goal line before an Eagles defenseman could get to it. As the puck inched over the line, a deluge of teddy bears came flying over the boards and onto the ice for this year’s annual teddy bear toss night. Always a fun sight, and if you have the opportunity to go to one, I highly recommend it.
Have you ever seen it Reign Bears? We have. pic.twitter.com/KXvU1LIVPj— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) December 16, 2018
With 12:35 left in the first period, Ontario would score again as a scramble in front of the Eagles netminder saw the puck fall to Phillipe Maillet, who slotted it past Pavel Francouz’s outstretched pad. Colorado would get one back with 6:35, and again with 2:34 left in the period, and the period would end with the teams level at two goals apiece.
The two teams would trade chances in the second period, but Peter Budaj would face the lion’s share of the work as he turned aside all 17 shots that Colorado threw on net while, on the opposite end of the ice, Pavel Francouz stopped six out of the six chances created by the Reign.
Ontario would break the deadlock just 42 seconds into the third period when Mikey Eyssimont would intercept a poor clearing attempt by Colorado and drive in hard from the left flank. His initial shot was stopped by the Eagles netminder, but Eyssimont was able to collect his own rebound and tuck home his wraparound attempt just inside the far corner.
The Eagles would tie the game with 7:10 elapsed in the third stanza, and eventually send the game into overtime with the game tied at three. Just 23 seconds into bonus hockey, Colorado forward Logan O’Connor would put the game to bed as he drove hard to the net and finished his chance in the far corner of the net.
The Reign ended the game with 36 shots on net, 22 penalty minutes, and a save percentage of .894.
Ontario Reign (2) - San Jose Barracuda (5)
San Jose arrived at the CBBA on Sunday, having dropped their contest the night before against San Diego 3-4 in the shootout. Unlike the night before, it was the visitors who got on the board first. With 8:51 gone in the first period, Nicholas DeSimone buried a backhand shot past Peter Budaj from a sharp angle. San Jose’s Jonathan Martin added another with 7:00 minutes left in the opening period. Despite their efforts, the Reign were unable to find a way past the San Jose netminder. The teams would head to the locker rooms with San Jose ahead by two points to none.
The Barracuda picked up right where they had left off, in the second period scoring a goal just 3:25 into the middle frame. They would continue to control most of the play during the period, putting 13 shots on net to Ontario’s six. The Reign finally got on the board after a failed clearing attempt by San Jose led to a scramble in front of the net. In the ensuing scrum, Kale Clague collected the puck and deposited it into the back of the net for his second of the year with 5:20 left on the clock.
Matt Moulson notched his eighth goal of the year with 18 seconds left in the period when he collected a pass from below the goal line, turned, and fired the puck into the back of the net. The Reign were beginning to show signs of life with the score at 3-2 at the second intermission.
The Barracuda decided to snuff out those signs of life as just 1:02 into the final period, they would score their fourth of the night on a tap-in after Budaj was unable to prevent a rebound from falling into the slot. San Jose would put the game out of reach with 10:49 remaining in the game. The Reign would push for another goal, but were unable to find the back of the net before time expired.
The Reign ended the game with 26 shots on net, 15 penalty minutes, and a save percentage of .868.
In the Granite State, the Manchester Monarchs are currently in fifth place of the ECHL’s North division. The Monarchs appear to have shaken off a rough start to the year and have won five of their last seven games, which included a three game sweep of the Norfolk Admirals last week. Despite being in fifth place they are within just two points of a playoff position, and they could certainly challenge for a spot if they continue with their current run of good form. Their next game is at home at SNHU Arena against the Reading Royals on December 21st.
With all of the injuries plaguing the Kings, it is not surprising that the Reign struggle as third and fourth guys are being asked to fill bigger roles, and their own line up has been stripped of their better players to fill roles with the L.A. Kings, as expected.
It is not, however, ideal for the overall development of players in the long run, but until some of the injured players begin to return to health, this is the current state of the Kings organization. Until next time.
Go Kings, Go Reign.