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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LA Kings Prospect Justin Auger Looking To Build Upon Outstanding First Pro Season

2015 ROOKIE CAMP: Frozen Royalty’s coverage of the Los Angeles Kings 2015 Rookie Camp continues with a look at right wing prospect Justin Auger, who exceeded expectations in an outstanding first season in professional hockey last year.


LA Kings right wing prospect Justin Auger (right), shown here shooting
the puck for the Manchester Monarchs during Game 1 of the
2015 Calder Cup Finals on June 6, 2015.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

EL SEGUNDO, CA — As has been said so often over the decades, professional hockey players are getting bigger, stronger and faster, seemingly every year.

Case in point:right wing prospect Justin Auger, who was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round (103rd overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft.

At 6-7, 227 pounds, one might expect the 21-year-old native of Kitchener, Ontario to be a basketball player. Instead, he’s pushing towards a career in the NHL, and his play last season, his first in professional hockey, earned him some rather high praise from his head coach.

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Ontario Reign Coach Mike Stothers Can Barely Contain His Excitement About LA Kings Prospect Adrian Kempe

2015 ROOKIE CAMP: Frozen Royalty’s coverage of the Los Angeles Kings’ 2015 Rookie Camp continues with a story on how Ontario Reign head coach Mike Stothers sure seems to be gushing with excitement about Los Angeles Kings 2014 first round pick/forward prospect Adrian Kempe.


LA Kings left wing prospect Adrian Kempe (right), shown here during
the team’s 2015 Rookie Camp.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After playing for Modo in the Swedish Elite League last season, left wing prospect Adrian Kempe, who was the Los Angeles Kings’ first round selection (29th overall) in the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, wasted little time in making the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to join the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League for their playoff run.

The 6-2, 187-pound native of Kramfors, Sweden, who turns 19 years old tomorrow, played in the Monarchs’ final three regular season games, but like so many young players moving up a level, not to mention making the transition from the European style of play to how the game is played in North America, Kempe struggled a bit in those games.

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LA Kings Looking For Big Push From Goalie Prospect Patrik Bartosak In 2015-16

2015 ROOKIE CAMP: Frozen Royalty’s coverage of the Los Angeles Kings’ 2015 Rookie Camp begins with a story on the development of goaltending prospect Patrik Bartosak.


LA Kings goaltender prospect Patrik Bartosak
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography]

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With his team leading the Utica Comets in the 2015 Calder Cup Final series, 2-0, Manchester Monarchs goaltender Patrik Bartosak, a Los Angeles Kings prospect, was sitting on the bench during Game 3 at Utica on June 10, 2015, watching intently, but pretty much minding his own business.

But just 7:51 into the game, starting goaltender J.F. Berube, also a Kings prospect, went down with what turned out be to a high ankle sprain, and suddenly, Bartosak, an American Hockey League rookie, found himself thrust into the spotlight, not to mention the pressure cooker—he had to backstop his team to a championship.

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