Ontario Reign’s First Season In AHL Deemed A “Rousing Success” – Part 1

The following is Part 1 of a two-part story on the Ontario Reign’s inaugural season in the American Hockey League, looking at how they did off the ice, and in terms of developing Los Angeles Kings prospects.


Ontario Reign President Darren Abbott
(click above to view larger image)
Photo courtesy Ontario Reign

LOS ANGELES — On January 29, 2015, when the American Hockey League announced that five teams would move to California to begin play in a new Pacific Division, the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate, was in the midst of an outstanding regular season that would end with them in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Monarchs not only went on a deep playoff run, but they went on to win the 2015 Calder Cup Championship.

But the Monarchs’ time to celebrate was rather short, as the team moved to Ontario, California over the summer to become the AHL edition of the Ontario Reign, while the ECHL version of the Reign moved east to become the ECHL Manchester Monarchs.

For all intents and purposes, the Kings swapped their AHL and ECHL affiliates, bringing their AHL affiliate more than 3,000 miles west—virtually into their own backyard, and in their inaugural season in the AHL, the Reign were highly successful despite losing in the Western Conference Final to the eventual Calder Cup Champion Lake Erie Monsters in a four-game sweep.

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Ontario Reign Need More Action Behind Their Words With Sweep Looming

Ontario Reign head coach Mike Stothers (center) has his work cut out for him with his team facing
a 3-0 deficit in the AHL’s 2016 Western Conference Finals.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — At least they’re saying all the right things…

But that’s about all that can be said about the Ontario Reign, who are looking way, way up at a 3-0 series deficit against the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals after the Monsters shutout the Reign in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series, 4-0, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Monsters can complete a four-game sweep in tonight’s Game 4, also in Cleveland, and the way they’ve dominated the series, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion, as the Reign have had no answer to the Monsters’ speed thus far.

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Frozen Royalty Audio: Backman, Gravel, Stothers After Ontario Reign Drop Game 1 To Lake Erie, 4-3

Ontario Reign defenseman Kevin Gravel
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — After taking a 1-0 lead early in the second period, the Ontario Reign gave up three straight goals in a span of just 2:36 and ended up dropping a 4-3 decision to the Lake Erie Monsters in Game 1 of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California on May 21.

In that fateful second period, Reign forward Sean Backman opened the scoring on a one-timer from left point on the power play at 4:23. But the Monsters came right back with three quick goals, first by Lukas Sedlak at 7:10, Josh Anderson at 8:23 on the power play, and Ryan Craig at 9:46, giving the Monsters a 3-1 lead, leaving the Reign stunned.

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Ontario Reign Faces Lake Erie Monsters In AHL’s Western Conference Finals

Ontario Reign center Nic Dowd
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — When the Ontario Reign open the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals tonight at Citizens Business Bank Arena (8:00 PM PDT), they will do so against a virtually unknown opponent.

Indeed, the Reign have not played the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets) this season. As such, at least in terms of actual on-ice experience, the two teams know nothing about each other.

But there’s always video, scouting and good’ol phone calls.

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Frozen Royalty Audio: Auger, Dowd, Stothers After Ontario Reign Eliminate San Diego

ONTARIO, CA — Forwards Joel Lowry and Justin Auger, both Los Angeles Kings prospects, scored goals to lead the Ontario Reign to a 2-1 win over the San Diego Gulls in Game 5 of their second round American Hockey League playoff series.

With the victory, the Reign eliminated the Gulls in five games.

The Reign stifled the Gulls at most every turn, severely limiting their chances and taking away the middle of the ice. Moreover, much of the play was in the San Diego zone, the result of a highly effective Ontario forecheck. As a result, the Gulls recorded just 16 shots on goal

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