Another game, another loss. One can certainly choose to view it that way. However, for those who actually tuned-in to watch what unfolded, this Reign game had a different feel to it. For starters, some reinforcements arrived from the big club, allowing Ontario to ice a lineup that more closely resembled what they’d be working with if the taxi squad didn’t exist.
For what is expected to be a short-term conditioning-type assignment, forward Lias Andersson was inserted into the lineup and promptly placed on the top line (a full Reign lineup can be found here). However, coach John Wroblewski was left wanting more – although he acknowledged some of that could be due to the 22-year-old pivot sitting idly since mid-February.
“He didn’t stand out tonight,” said Wrobo immediately following the game. “But, I’d have to go back and really look at his touches and pay attention to his details. I thought he started pretty fast and he was around it, but maybe just a little bit of game timing, shaking some rust off. It didn’t always connect for him tonight, but I thought he was okay and he certainly provides an element for us. There’s a skill level and, of course, speed and tenacity.”
Defensively, Ontario received Austin Strand back and he was paired with rookie Cole Hults – somebody Wrobo has repeatedly complimented over his first seven games in the AHL.
His puck movement, the way that he handles the puck, and his vision, everything’s with snap, everything’s with pace,” Wroblewski noted. “With his puck touches, he sees it and his delivery to the net is very crisp.”
Like with every young player breaking into pro hockey this season, the Reign coach has been transparent about areas he sees as a work-in-progress.
“We’re still working through some of the pace issues [with Hults], which are understandable with the situation that he was in,” Wroblewski said, referring to the 22-year-old blueliner starting the season a few weeks late while he recovered from an injury. “Defending and line rush is an area that has to improve with him. Offensively, I like what we see.”
One thing nobody liked to see on Wednesday was Kings prospect Akil Thomas take a puck to the face during the third period. To say it was scary would be an understatement — especially after watching what happened with Sean Walker earlier this season.
Scary moment as Akil Thomas gets hit in the face with a shot. He came back a few minutes later.#Reign
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) March 4, 2021
Incredibly enough, Thomas was back on the bench a few minutes later and eventually scored the tying goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
Thomas goes to the room. Towel over his nose/mouth. We'll get an update postgame.
37-22 Reign lead SOG, trail 4-3 on scoreboard
7:41 remaining in regulation
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 4, 2021
Thomas is already back on the bench with tape on his nose. Hockey players.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 4, 2021
Akil Thomas ties the game with 28 seconds left! Assisted by Andersson (1), and Clague (2) #Reign
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) March 4, 2021
Wroblewski on Thomas: I can’t tell you enough, what an inspiring play and exactly what we’re looking. The toughness factor, to be able to come back from that and then not only does he score, then he blocks another shot in overtime. That young man just proved a lot of things to me. I didn’t have a lot of question marks about him before, but I think he just kind of stamped an exclamation mark about what type of character he has. I have all the time in the world for him.”
After a spectacular preseason, Tyler Madden finally scored his first official AHL goal.
Tyler Madden scores his 1st AHL goal to make it a 1 goal game! Assisted by Gaunce(4) and Kupari(8)#Reign
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) March 4, 2021
Earlier in the game, center Rasmus Kupari also recorded a goal to extend his team-leading points mark to nine (2G, 7A). And the pass by Arthur Kaliyev was fantastic.
Kupari ties the game at 2! Assisted by Kaliyev(4) #Reign
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) March 4, 2021
For those playing attention to the 6k times I've mentioned the greatness of Kaliyev's passing game… WOW! So precise on that dish to Kupari. Absolutely beautiful skill on display there.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 4, 2021
“I thought Arthur Kaliyev was very effective and continues to push the envelope with his pace,” added Wroblewski. ” “He and Madden were certainly magical with the puck. They have a knack for the game and this is a great learning experience for them of what the pro ranks are.”
Mikey Eyssimont took a penalty late in overtime, something the Gulls were eventually able to capitalize on and win the game. It wasn’t the only special teams moment Wroblewski wanted to focus on, though.
“We gave up three tonight on the penalty kill and in all three ways you can give them up – 5-on-3, 5-on-4, and 4-on-3. Despite our structure — Hajt does an unbelievable job getting the guys what they need, our structure is there — we just didn’t have the execution. I loved it, we got the shot block early, and they hardly got set up at all. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the last shot block, and then the save.”
Per the norm, Ontario will play back-to-back games this weekend. This time around, they’ll be facing the Bakersfield Condors beginning on Saturday afternoon. It will be their first matchup of 2021.
Until then, be sure to check out Wroblewski’s appearance on Kings Of The Podcast this week (linked below). We did a deep dive on his roster and took a look at what to expect from the Ontario Reign this season.

Follow @mayorNHL

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to

Lead photo courtesy of Ontario Reign