Manor Reign Recap: Ontario Beats Calgary; Thomas with Spin-O-Rama OT Winner (Video)

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Looking for their second win in as many games, Ontario played host to the visiting Calgary Wranglers on Friday in the final game of an emotional season series between the pair of divisional rivals.

While both teams have the Calder Cup playoffs clearly in sight, a win against the other was just the motivation to fuel a playoff-like effort in this tightly fought game. Leading into the match at Toyota Arena, the Reign had won four times in seven prior meetings.

The first period was largely lopsided, as Calgary dominated the shot advantage 11-5 while Reign goaltender Erik Portillo shut the door to prevent any scoring. Ontario’s best chance came when leading scorer Samuel Fagemo sprang for a breakaway to beat the opposing goalie but hit the goal post.

You are the worst Burr (Burr is the post) pic.twitter.com/r1mMj5x8B3

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) March 23, 2024


Heading into the middle period with a scoreless tie, the Wranglers took advantage of a controversial penalty call and scored on the power play to grab a 1-0 lead. The Reign bench was irate yet play continued.

Ontario’s penalty kill has been incredibly successful over the last 10 games and have allowed only three power play goals against in that span – all to Calgary; with one PP goal in each of their past three games against the Wranglers.

Despite outshooting the Wranglers by nearly double in the second, the Reign were still down a goal after 40 minutes.

Ontario had previously only found a win one time this season when trailing after two periods; however, with 13 minutes remaining in the third they found the equalizer. Akil Thomas picked a puck and sent it to defenseman Brandt Clarke, who sauced a pass backdoor to Kings prospect Tyler Madden for his 14th goal of the season.

.@tp_madden10 ties the game at 1!!#ReignTrain | #CGYvsONT pic.twitter.com/zbX3FV3qBT

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) March 23, 2024


Regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, sending things to overtime.

The extra period began with a clutch save by a sprawled-out Portillo to keep his team’s chances alive – and then it happened.

Thomas (19) led the charge through the neutral zone and sped across the blue line into a spin-o-rama that he finished perfectly with a backhand, top-shelf shot that stunned the home crowd for his second consecutive game winning goal.

SOMEONE CALL @espn AKIL THOMAS WITH THE SPIN-O-RAMA TO WIN IT IN OT!!#REIGNTRAIN pic.twitter.com/QIwhxRjYyQ

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) March 23, 2024


With a 2-1 overtime victory, the Reign finished the season series 5-2-1 against a Calgary team they were 1-7-0 against last year. Ontario also improved its record to 2-14-1 when trailing after two periods.

Injury Report – Fagemo: The 24-year-old was limited to only four shifts in the third period and wasn’t available for overtime. Fagemo is an important piece of the Reign forward group – scoring 17 goals in his past 16 games played. While it was unclear what happened at first, there was an update on the skilled winger’s status later in the evening…

His final shift ended with 8:57 remaining in P3.

Nothing significant in that shift at all. No weird contact or anything. He has a minor bump with a teammate, but nothing dangerous.

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) March 23, 2024


Early word on Fagemo is "just bumps and bruises." He was removed from the game for precautionary reasons.

We'll see if he's made available for Sunday's game vs. Bako (a Condors team that coach Marco Sturm called one of the two best teams in the Division). Big test for Ontario.

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) March 23, 2024


Real Deal Akil: Thomas chipped in a goal and an assist for consecutive two-point nights, giving him four points (2G, 2A) in the past two games. His game-winning goals in consecutive contests give him eight GWGs on the season, tying him with Fagemo and two other players for tops in the the AHL. Since returning from an injury suffered at Calgary four games ago, and slotting back in as the second line center, Thomas has produced four shots on goal in each of them. He’s clearly making a late push for an NHL call-up.

Late Bloomers: A troubling trend to keep an eye on are the slow starts plaguing the Reign. Ontario has only scored first period goals in two of the past 10 games, and five of the past 20 games played.

T. Madden: The fourth-year pro has turned heads with the poise and impact he’s put on display recently. His game-tying goal required skill to one-time a saucer pass in tight for his seventh point in the past 10 games.

Ice-Cold Power Play: There’s the elephant in the room and then there are the power play struggles. Ontario boasted such a strong unit earlier in the season but has seen a rough stretch of only one PP goal in the past 24 opportunities.

The Reign play their final game of the current three-game home stand Sunday afternoon against the Bakersfield Condors.

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