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Calder Cup Playoffs Watch: the Ontario Reign’s journey starts now

The Kings’ season is over, but fear not, the race for a championship isn’t over yet. The Ontario Reign return to the playoffs, with their first round kicking off tonight. Earlier this week, the Kings reassigned Jonny Brodzinski, Mike Amadio, Paul LaDue, and Oscar Fantenberg to the Reign so they can continue their pursuit for the Calder Cup.

The Reign face the Texas Stars in round one — a new foe for the team, who has faced the San Diego Gulls for the past two years. (The Gulls missed the playoffs this year, along with the Stockton Heat from the Pacific; replacing them are the Stars and the Tucson Roadrunners.) The Reign won their season series with the Stars, going 3-1-0, with two of those wins coming in overtime or the shootout. Cal Petersen was in net for one of those games, with Jack Cambpell starting the others. Campbell wasn’t returned to the Reign after the Kings’ season ended, so the net belongs to Petersen for the duration of the playoffs.

We’ll be providing you with some coverage of the Reign’s playoff run, so stay tuned. But first, here’s all you need to know to follow along with the games.

What’s the schedule?

The AHL uses a best-of-five format only for the first round of playoffs.  While most teams have a 2-3 series split, there are also a few 2-2-1 splits, which is how this series will play out. The Texas Stars have home ice advantage, so play will kick off tonight in Cedar Park, Texas for games one and two.

Pacific Division Semifinals

Game 1 – Thursday, April 19 @ Texas, 5:00 PM Pacific
Game 2 – Friday, April 20 @ Texas, 5:00 PM Pacific
Game 3 – Sunday, April 22 @ Ontario, 3:00 PM Pacific
Game 4 – Tuesday, April 24 @ Ontario, 7:00 PM Pacific
Game 5 – Monday, April 30 @ Texas, 5:00 PM Pacific

How do I watch the games?

The AHL offers a streaming package, so you can watch from the comfort of your own home, although it is a little pricey. An all access pass (all teams, all games) is $250.  A pass just for Reign games (home and away for the first two rounds) is $45. For now, this appears to be your only legal streaming option to watch the games. (Also, please note that the HD streaming you’re generally used to from NHL games is generally not present in AHL streams.)   If a full playoffs package is still too much commitment for you, you can buy individual games for $10 each.

The AHL usually allows free streaming of the Calder Cup Finals, so if (when!) the Reign make it that far, you will most likely be able to watch for free.

For now, though, paying for a streaming package through the official AHL site is your best option. Games can be streamed from your browser or via the AHL Live phone app.

If you’re not into paying for the video, you can stream free audio of the game via Mixlr.

If you’re an Ontario local, you can buy tickets to games three and four, starting at about $21 (plus fees).

Who should I watch for?

The additions of Brodzinski, Amadio, LaDue, and Fantenberg should be a big boost for Ontario, who went 4-5-1 down the stretch, largely without those players in the lineup. The experience of Amadio and Fantenberg in particular should help immensely. Fantenberg stepped up for big minutes with the Kings and showed off all the hard work he’s done on his game this season while with Ontario. The return of Amadio and Brodzinski means that head coach Mike Stothers can reunite the Amadio/Brodzinski/Moulson trio that was positively deadly for the Reign before Amadio’s recall to the Kings.

Kings prospects Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Mikey Eyssimont have already gotten in several regular-season games with the Reign after their seasons ended. It’s somewhat unlikely that they’ll see the ice in the playoffs, particularly with Brodzinski and Amadio back in the linuep, but letting them both experience this side of professional playoff hockey should be an excellent experience for both of them.

Your top scorers for the Reign in the regular season were Michael Mersch (21-28–49 in 65 games played), Matt Moulson (18-28–46 in 49 games) and T.J. Hensick (11-34–45 in 60 games). Rookie Philippe Maillet had an impressive campaign, with 18 goals and 18 points in 36 games. In the last ten games of the season, Maillet had 12 points, including a five-point and three-point night.

For the Stars, their leading scorers are veterans Travis Morin (10-51–60 in 75 games played) and Curtis McKenzie (25-23–48 in 51 games). If you’re keeping an eye out on future NHLers, watch for winger Roope Hintz (20-15–35 in 70 games).

One More Thing

The Reign aren’t the only Kings affiliate in the playoffs. The Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ ECHL affiliate, just completed a first-round sweep of the Reading Royals and will face either the Adirondack Thunder or the Worcester Railers in the second round.

Goaltender Charles Williams has provided stability in net for the Monarchs this year. He’s got a great story of revitalizing his college career after transferring to Canisius College for his final year of eligibility. Williams was a top-10 Hobey Baker award finalist during his senior year. With the Monarchs, he’s gone 22-12-6 this season.