Manor Reign Recap: Fagemo’s Hat Trick Sparks Big Win for Portillo, Reign

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Kicking off the first of a four-game homestand, the Reign were visited by their upstate Barracuda neighbors, who sit snugly on the floor of the Pacific Division standings. The home team wasted no time asserting its dominance Tuesday evening, as they went on to win a convincing 8-2 victory.

Just over two minutes after puck drop, Ontario struck first with a quick goal by Nikita Pavlychev (1) off a skillful drop pass from hulking Samuel Helenius in tight near the goalmouth. Five minutes later, a sharp shot on net by Martin Chromiak found the boot of Francesco Pinelli (6) on the far side and deflected past the goaltender. To wrap up the period, the red-hot Samuel Fagemo (26) led the charge on a decisive individual fast break to beat the Barracuda keeper and make it 3-0 with less than a minute remaining in the first frame.

San Jose opened the middle period with a goalie swap; and it appeared to work, with them scoring a pair of early goals in just 2:32 to bring the score within one – but that’s when their wheels fell off.

Although the Barracuda out-shot Ontario 22-19 in the final period and a half of the game, rookie goaltender Erik Portillo stopped all remaining chances, and the Reign scored five consecutive goals to close out the match, including two additional from Fagemo to cap off his second hat trick of the season (27,28).

Ontario had an astounding total of 12 points-contributors in a game that ties their season-high offensive output with eight goals.

With the win, the Reign are riding a modest three-game winning streak and have now won all six games against San Jose this season, including two shutouts. They’ve moved two points ahead of eighth-place Bakersfield in the Pacific Division standings, though the Condors have four games in hand.

Fagemo Stat Pack: Samuel is putting together an exceptionally special AHL season and has risen beyond all others in the league with some incredible performances.

– In just 33 games played this season, Fagemo has recorded 28 goals – good for the second-highest league total and just one goal behind the leader, who has 13 more games played than the Swede.

– Leads all skaters with minimum 20 games played in Goals-Per-Game (GPG) with .848 . For context, the leading goal-scorer boasts a .630 GPG.

– Leads the AHL with 13 power play goals.

– Has scored 11 goals against San Jose this season.

– Has 10 points in his past six games (8G,2A).

– Has 15 goals in his past 13 games (19 points).

Portillo of the Month: The Reign turned to their defensive structure and steady goaltending to have a successful February with a mere 2.33 Goals-Against-Average (GAA); however, it was the consistent play of rookie Portillo that really turned heads. In his six games this month, the first year pro went 3-1-0-2 with a 1.83 GAA.

His .940 SV% in the month of February was the second-best in the AHL among qualified goalies with more than two starts.

Veterans’ Push for Playoffs: In the summer before the season, Ontario went out and signed veteran free agents Joe Hicketts, Charles Hudon, and defensive defenseman Steven Santini to help T.J. Tynan lead a young Reign team with minimal experience. With only 21 games remaining in the season, Santini has stabilized the defensive pairs while the others are chipping in more regularly.

– Tynan: 15 points in the past 12 games played (0G, 15A); three-game point streak
– Hudon: Eight points in the past seven games played (3G,5A)
– Hicketts: Since returning from injury, eight points in the past six games played (1G,7A)

Hicketts has settled into a dependable offensive AHL defenseman and replaced Brandt Clarke’s spot in the lineup after his call-up to the Kings. The 27-year-old was a Calder Cup champion in his rookie season.

What to Watch For: With the Kings in the midst of their western Canadian road trip and only carrying 12 healthy forwards, expect a call-up of one Ontario forward on Wednesday in preparation for their Thursday game in Vancouver. Will they call on the hottest goal scorer in the AHL (who also happens to be right-handed)? Or could it be Akil Thomas that gets a taste of the big leagues as reward for his impressive, bounce-back season?

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