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Goaltender Matt Villalta assigned to ECHL, Cole Kehler up to Ontario

Los Angeles Kings v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

The Ontario Reign made a back-up goaltender swap, sending Los Angeles Kings prospect Matt Villalta to the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets and calling up goaltender Cole Kehler.

With Cal Petersen the undisputed starter in Ontario, the move may be geared towards getting Villalta more regular playing time. He can likely step into a starter role with the Komets and play big minutes, rather than waiting on the bench. Even a back-to-back scenario doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Ontario’s backup would see the ice, as Reign coach Mike Stothers has no issue in playing his goaltender in consecutive games.

Villalta has appeared in one game for the Reign, stepping in to relieve Cal Petersen for the third period of an eventual 8-2 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners on October 12. Villalta stopped eight of 11 shots that he faced. Prior to joining the Reign, Villalta had a three-season career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL.

Kehler, signed as a free agent in 2017, played in 17 games for the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs last season, posting a 4.25 goals against average and a 0.883 save percentage. He has played in three games for the Komets this season with a 3.37 goals against average and 0.901 save percentage. Kehler has two wins and one loss in net for the Komets.

The Reign also announced that they signed forward Stephen Baylis to an AHL contract. Baylis, a left wing, played four years at Bowling Green State University, collecting 89 points (29 goals, 60 assists) in 152 career games. The Reign have assigned Baylis to the Fort Wayne Komets.

Previously, the Kings also announced that 22-year old forward Brad Morrison had been assigned to the Komets. Since being assigned, Morrison has gotten into two games, recording one assist. He had yet to appear in a game for the Reign this season. In 2018-19, Morrison scored 10 goals and 10 assists in 50 games with the Reign.

The Reign are next in action on Wednesday, October 23, in an away game against the Bakersfield Condors. The Komets’ next game is on Wednesday, October 23, when they travel to take on the Kalamazoo Wings.