Heavyweight Battle in Fresno for Division Crown

by Sebastian Abdon Ibarra

The Ontario Jr Reign is in Fresno this week for a three-game series. Ontario’s spectacular play throughout this entire season has already guaranteed themselves playoff hockey. However, they have their eyes set on something more, and that is the ability to call themselves champions of the Pacific Division. 

This series is certainly not do or die, there are still six more games after this week, but with the way that the Fresno Monsters have played this season, it is about as close as you can get. 

As it currently stands, the Monsters and Jr Reign are tied for first place with 61 points each. However, the Monsters have played three fewer games than the Jr Reign, which means that the Jr Reign do not currently control their own destiny. An OJR sweep of Fresno will ensure that both teams have the same record at the end of the season assuming that both teams win out, and given the way both teams have played this season it is not completely out of the realm of possibility. 

Now, a sweep of a very good team on their home ice is a very difficult ask, but it needs to be done if Ontario wants to give themselves the best shot at a division crown. 

The Monsters won the series 2-1 last time these two met in Ontario. It was a very competitive series, with two of the games going past regulation. Both sides got plenty of shots up in the three games, with the difference in shots on goal negligible. 

The Jr Reign did a good job on the PK, holding the Monsters to just 3/15 on power play opportunities. Their struggles came on their own power plays where they only produced 2/12, including going 0/7 in the last two games of the series. That is something that they will need to certainly address in this series in order to be successful. 

Keeping the most dangerous goal scorer in the league, Noak Persson, under control should be priority number one for Ontario. The duo of Josh Henson and Matus Trnka have been integral for the success of the Jr Reign this season, and they are going to have to continue to step up to give Ontario the best chance to walk out of Fresno with six points in hand. 

Schedule this weekend:

  • Game 1: Thur, Feb. 1 @ 7:45 PM
  • Game 2: Fri, Feb. 2 @ 6 PM
  • Game 3: Sat, Feb. 3 @ 5 PM

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