Manor Ontario Reign Lineup at Bakersfield Condors; Thomas Returns with Playoff Implications at Stake

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Two teams who really don’t like each other will meet up for the fourth time in a month. That’s just part of the story, though. Ontario and Bakersfield could be poised to play a best-of-three playoff series against each other before April draws to a close.

Coach Marco Sturm has his team sitting in the driver’s seat. They’re riding a 9-1 record over their past 10 games — that’s better than every team in the entire league — and comes on the heels of an 8-2-1 run in the 11 games prior.

Ontario’s ugliest loss in recent memory was a 4-0 defeat in Bakersfield back on March 13. Remarkably, it marked the first time Sturm’s club had been shutout in 2024. The Reign quickly redeemed themselves by winning their next seven games played, which included a pair of 4-3 victories over the Condors at Toyota Arena in late March.

Akil Thomas led all Reign forwards with four shots on goal in the game where they were shutout in Kern County. He’s rejoined his AHL teammates after a brief recall to the NHL, where he scored three goals in seven games. Of course, the bulk of his season has been with the Reign, where he has arguably been Sturm’s most consistent player all season. His nine game-winning goals sit only second to teammate Sammy Fagemo for tops in the AHL.

With center Alex Turcotte rejoining the Kings after his LTIR conditioning assignment in Ontario, Thomas is expected to take his spot on the second line.

This is expected to be Carl Grundstrom’s final game with the Reign, he will most likely be summoned to the Kings on Friday, prior to their first-round playoff series beginning.

One day move.

Grundstrom expected back for Game 83.

As noted several times recently, Hiller then needs to decide if he wants to carry a 14th fwd (Turcotte or Thomas).

Likely lineup:

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Dubois – Lewis
Grundstrom –… https://t.co/XQ91nPZx57

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) April 16, 2024


Defensively speaking, Sturm went with a slightly different look at practice on Tuesday — which is laid out in our lineup projection below.

Rookie goalie Erik Portillo was in net for the aforementioned loss to the Condors, as well. Sturm recently commented that he’s trying to get his young netminder prepared to be the No. 1 guy in the playoffs, so after giving him back-to-back starts over the weekend, look for Portillo to man the crease again tonight.

One final note on the Condors: Ontario and Tucson are currently tied for second place in the Pacific Division, with Bakersfield sitting sixth. The No. 3 seed plays No. 6 in the AHL’s best-of-three games series in the first-round of this year’s Calder Cup Playoffs. Ontario has already earned home ice advantage for the first round. Game 1 is scheduled for Wed., April 24. Should the Reign and Condors be paired up, Game 2 is being talked about possibly taking place on Sat., April 27… in Bakersfield (with a potential Game 3 then back in Ontario).

Should the Reign end up playing the Calgary Wranglers, all of those games will be played in Ontario.

It’s a strange situation. We’ll have to wait for it all to play out.

In the meantime, Sturm’s team gets another crack at Bakersfield — a team he has had lots of praise for of late, including these comments in a recent article:

The Reign will take on a Condors team that Strum recently referred to as one of the top two teams in the Pacific Division, saying — “On paper, for me, Coachella and Bakersfield are the two best teams … That’s a team I think will finish very strong and they have really good goaltending. So, it’s going to be a challenge. I’m not going to say we can’t beat him, but it will be a tough test, for sure.”

REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. CONDORS


Grundstrom – Tynan – Fagemo
Ward – Thomas – Madden
Chromiak – Pinelli – Hodgson
Lee – Helenius- Doty

Hicketts – Clarke
Connauton – Santini
Krygier – Nousiainen

Portillo (starter)
Dell

Other roster options include: (F) Francis, Olson, Pavlychev and (D) Millar, Rowe, Wylie

Congrats to @brandtclarke55 on being named to @TheAHL's All-Rookie Team! #ReignTrain

📰
Brandt Clarke Named To AHL's All-Rookie Team pic.twitter.com/e45uvPFhOi

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) April 17, 2024


Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm Pacific Time and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.

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