Manor Ontario Reign Lineup vs. Tucson Roadrunners; Doty Facing Elevated Role

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In a phrase that will be used several time in the coming weeks, the Reign are set to complete their season series with a Pacific Division opponent on Wednesday. For this specific contest, it will be the Tucson Roadrunners — a club Ontario has to beat if they have any realistic chance of catching them in the standings.

Tucson currently sits second in the Division with 75 points, six more than Ontario. While the Reign are comfortably in a playoff spot, each of these teams have just 13 games remaining in the regular season. A win by Ontario would close the gap and make things interesting. A loss would pretty much mean the Reign’s best hope would be a third-place finish.

If recent history means anything, the Roadrunners have taken four of the previous seven games in 2023-24. However, one of those victories came in overtime, so the Reign hold a 3-3-1 record entering the final contest. To show just how close the series has been this year, five of the seven games played previously ended as one-goal contests.

Ontario has also given up 19 fewer goals on the season, 160 vs. 179. What’s interesting there is they did it in the early part of the season with rookie Erik Portillo and David Rittich. When the latter departed, Kings prospect Jacob Ingham rejoined the tandem, only to eventually see veteran Aaron Dell join the club in late January. He’s amassed a .906 save percentage in eight games played, and he’s expected back between the pipes again tonight.

With Alex Turcotte appearing to be injured in last night’s Kings game at Crypto.com Arena (video here), there was some intrigue surrounding a possible recall of Akil Thomas or Sammy Fagemo to the NHL. That doesn’t appear to be the case, as both participated in Ontario’s pre-game skate earlier today at the team’s training facility in El Segundo.

Perhaps even more interesting is how the Reign aligned during that skate, with Jacob Doty moving up to RW3. Perhaps it has happened before, yet this may the first time he’s been elevated to the third line during his stint with the Reign.

It will be interesting to see how coach Marco Sturm deploys his bottom-6 forwards tonight, as the fourth line shown this morning has extremely limited AHL experience. Rookie center Franky Pinelli was skating alongside Colton Young (12 games) and recently recalled Ryan Francis (23 games).

Of course, much of this was necessitated due to the three-game suspension of forward Hayden Hodgson for elbowing (video here). In their last contest, Hodgson’s first game of the suspension, Sturm used defenseman Cole Krygier on the fourth line; hence the recall of Francis.

On the blueline, Brandt Clarke is expected to make his sixth straight start for the Reign since being loaned to the club just before the NHL Trade Deadline. In three previous games against Tucson, Clarke had points (1G, 1A) in two of them.

Across the ice, Josh Doan — son of legendary Kings killer Shane Doan — leads the Roadrunners in goals (24) and points (44) over 59 games. Former Reign goalie Matt Villalta is tending net for Tucson these days.

REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. ROADRUNNERS


Chromiak – Tynan – Fagemo
Ward – Thomas – Madden
Pavlychev – Helenius – Doty
Young – Helenius – Francis

Hicketts – Clarke
Connauton – Santini
Krygier – Rowe

Dell (starter)
Portillo

Other roster options include: (F) Hudon and (D) Inamoto, Nousiainen, Wylie

Suspended: Hodgson

Injured: Lee (expected back late March, continues to skate in a red no-contact jersey)

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

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