WHO: Ontario Reign (23-7-3-2) at Grand Rapids Griffins (15-16-5-2)
WHAT: AHL REGULAR SEASON GAME #36
WHEN: Friday, February 4 @ 4:00 p.m. Pacific
OR: Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @ontarioreign
MATCHUP OF THE DAY: The Ontario Reigns will visit the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night to begin a two-game weekend series at Van Andel Arena. Friday’s contest is the first of four meetings between the clubs in 2021-22, as Grand Rapids are scheduled to travel to Ontario for a pair of games at the end of March. The Reign have won in their only two previous meetings against the Griffins, each in the 2018-19 campaign.
TO MONITOR : Set to open their February schedule, the Reigns are looking to continue playing like they did in January when they went 9-1-1-1 in 12 games during the month. Ontario is the AHL’s top scoring team, averaging 4.09 goals per game, and tops the league in power play with 27.7%. Forward Martin Frk will play for Grand Rapids as a first-time visitor, having played 227 games in five seasons with the club from 2013 to 2019 while helping them win the 2017 Calder Cup.
LAST DEATH: A season-high eight goals highlighted by a hat trick from forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan propelled the Ontario Reign past the San Jose Barracuda at Toyota Arena 8-5 on Monday night. The Nine Reign skaters had several points in the win, including Samuel Fagemo, who scored twice in the third period, and teammates Austin Wagner and Brett Sutter who each had a goal and an assist. The Reign also continued their impressive streak at home, winning their third straight game in Ontario and picking up a point in their eighth straight game at Toyota Arena, where they are 14-2-2-2 this year.
TERRORIZING TYNAN: Forward TJ Tynan leads the way offensively for the reign this season with 46 points in just 29 games on eight goals and 38 assists. The Orland Park, Ill., native leads the AHL in assists, while his total points are second in the league. Tynan, the reigning AHL MVP, also has 22 power-play points, which is the most in the league. More recently, Tynan had two points in Ontario’s 8-5 win over San Jose on Monday after being dropped from the scoresheet last Saturday in Stockton. The eighth-year pro is currently on course to set a new career high in scoring, which he set in 2018-19 with 71 points in 71 games.
STRIPED SPENCE: Rookie defenseman Jordan Spence has been at his best over the past month, recording points in his last 12 games since Jan. 2. Spence extended that streak Monday night, assisting Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s hat-trick goal in the second period. During the 12-game series, the defenseman had two goals and 13 assists while posting power-play points in 10 games. Spence leads all AHL rookie defensemen with 25 points in 32 games on two goals and 23 assists. 14 of his assists came while the Reign had the man advantage, who is second on the team and fourth in the league.
IN SEARCH OF GRIFFINS: Grand Rapids starts the weekend ranked sixth in the AHL Central Division with 37 points and a .487 point percentage midway through the team’s season. Forward Tanner Hirose leads the club with 31 points in 37 games on nine goals and 22 assists. Kyle Criscuolo and Turner Elson have a share of the team lead in goal tally, each posting 12 goals. Defenseman Ryan Murphy is the team’s top-scoring skater at fullback, recording 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists. Murphy also has nine points on the power play (3-6=9). Calvin Pickard leads in goals with a 13-9-5 record in 28 appearances, a 2.46 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
JARET GETS TRICKY: Forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored the first hat trick of his professional career on Monday night, scoring a goal in the first period before striking twice within 50 seconds during the second period. The fourth-year professional now ranks second on the team with 14 goals in 29 games in 2021-22 and is also tied for the team lead with nine human-advantage scorers, which is the second most raised in the AHL.
V MEANS VICTORY: Goalkeeper Matt Villalta has been a huge part of the Reign’s success this season, winning 13 in 19 appearances, which ranks him fifth in the league. Statistically speaking, Villalta are enjoying their best professional season in their third campaign. His 2.58 goals-against average is a career low, while his .913 save percentage is his best with Ontario. The 22-year-old is three appearances away from his career high when he played 22 games as a rookie during the 2019-20 season.
TURCOTTE TIME: Forward Alex Turcotte has scored in three consecutive games for Ontario, most recently scoring his fifth goal of the season on a deflection late in the first period in Monday night’s win. The forward also put Ontario within striking distance of Stockton in the third period of last Saturday night’s loss, scoring his first goal since Nov. 7. In 22 AHL games this season, Turcotte has 13 points (5-8=13). He also has a rating of +14, which is the club’s second this season behind only Samuel Fagemo (+15). The former No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft made his NHL debut on Dec. 28 and stayed with the Kings for a month, playing eight games.