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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LA Kings RW Prospect Scott Sabourin Is Falling Short of Expectations

Los Angeles Kings right wing prospect Scott Sabourin, shown here playing for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography”

ONTARIO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — Back in the late summer of 2013, a big, burly right wing came out of nowhere to turn heads during the Los Angeles Kings’ rookie camp and rookie tournament. In fact, in a rookie game against the then-Phoenix Coyotes, this player, not known for skating, speed or skill, took a breakout pass in stride, split two Coyotes defenders at the far blue line and went in on a breakaway. He didn’t score—his wrist shot barely missed the top left corner of the net. Nevertheless, he left just about everyone in attendance with jaws agape.

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Dedication, Determination Continue To Drive LA Kings Prospect Maxim Kitsyn Forward

LA Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn (number 13), shown here with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — When Frozen Royalty last checked in with Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn, who is playing for the Kings’ current ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, his determination to improve was the thing that stood out the most.

As the 2014-15 season nears its conclusion, the 6-4, 202-pound native of Novokuznetzk, Russia, remains as determined as ever.

“He’s a quality person, and you like working with kids like that because they’ve got that focus, drive and determination to get better,” said Reign head coach Jason Christie.

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Ontario Reign Look Anything But Regal In Game 5 Loss To Allen Americans In 2015 ECHL West Finals

LA Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn, shown
here with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — On a night when their opposition, the Allen Americans, were on the brink of elimination from the ECHL’s 2015 Western Conference Finals, and knowing that their team was just one win away from reaching the 2015 Kelly Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, the Ontario Reign looked anything but regal.

Instead, the Reign were soundly beaten in Game 5 on Sunday night, 6-2, in front of 4,371 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

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Win Four Tickets To Ontario Reign’s First Home Game of 2015 Western Conference Finals

Image courtesy Ontario Reign

With the Los Angeles Kings having missed the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it has been tough for many Los Angeles hockey fans, especially after having gotten accustomed to great success, with the team having two Stanley Cup Championships in the previous three seasons.

Indeed, Kings fans now expect to see their team as, not only one of the 16 teams who make the playoffs, but as one of the teams that makes a deep run towards winning the Stanley Cup.

Even though that isn’t happening this season, both of the Kings’ minor league affiliates have made it all the way to their respective conference finals, just eight wins away from a championship. Here in Southern California, the Kings’ ECHL affiliate the Ontario Reign, opens the Western Conference Finals against the Allen Americans (affiliate of the San Jose Sharks) in Allen, Texas, with Games 1 and 2 on May 17 and 18.

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