ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS VS ONTARIO REIGN SERIES PREVIEW
The Abbotsford Canucks wrap up their six game homestand this weekend with a pair of games on Friday and Saturday night as they host the Ontario Reign at Abbotsford Centre.
Abbotsford comes into the series in third place in a close Pacific Division (33-21-2-4) with 72 points. Meanwhile Ontario holds down fifth place (30-23-4-1) with 65 points and two games in hand.
The Reign enter the contest winless in their last seven games, having gone 0-5-2-0 in that span, including a 3-2 loss to Abbotsford in California on March 1st. Through that seven game stretch, six of those games were decided by two goals or fewer with a pair of overtime defeats.
Meanwhile the Canucks enter the weekend having picked up five of a possible six points through the last three games, including a win and a shootout loss against fourth place Colorado.
The two teams have only met twice so far this season, with six games left in the eight game seasons series. 50% of Abbotsford’s final 12 games are against the Reign, who they have gone 1-1-0-0 against this season. The Canucks opened up their season with an 8-2 defeat in California in October, before Nils Höglander scored twice in a 3-2 comeback victory for the Canucks earlier in March.
Reign captain T.J. Tynan enters the weekend tied for the league lead in scoring, putting up 68 points through 58 games played. He leads the Reign in assists (60) and points (68), while Lias Andersson is the team leader in goals with 23. Samuel Fagemo also has registered 20 goals this season, meaning that Ontario is one of just nine teams to have two active players to reach the 20 goal mark this season (Bridgeport, Charlotte, Coachella Valley, Henderson, Hershey, Rockford, San Jose, Springfield).
In goal for the Reign this season has been Cal Petersen and Matthew Villalta, with Pheonix Copley spending the majority of the season in Los Angeles with the Kings. Petersen and Villalta have save percentages of .907 and .914 respectively, and have a combined record of 24-19-5 this season.
As for the Canucks’ team leaders, Linus Karlsson leads Abbotsford in goals with 19, as well as points with 43 this season. Justin Dowling, who is expected to play in his 500th AHL game on Saturday, leads the team in assists with 30, and is second in overall scoring with 41 points. Dowling enters the weekend on a four-game point streak, picking up helpers in each of Abbotsford’s games this home stand.
"They’re big games, we’re battling with Ontario for positioning. There’s so many head-to-heads that there is still a lot to be decided, so these are playoff games for us. It’s as close to a playoff situation as you can get. Not only do we want to win the game obviously, but it’s great preparation for the playoffs, how we need to play. It’ll be the little things that make the difference in these types of matchups, and that’s how we’re approaching it." – Jeremy Colliton
After this weekend, the Abbotsford Canucks hit the road for their final road trip of the regular season, with a single game in Bakersfield on Wednesday, before a weekend series in Ontario. Following the Sunday afternoon game against the Reign, Abbotsford finishes their road trip with a pair of games next Thursday and Saturday in Manitoba against the Moose. The Canucks then play five games at home to wrap up the year against Ontario and Calgary.
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