Grundstrom scores, Lee steals the show again, Ontario's win secures home ice in the playoffs


After an emotional home win against the Gulls on Friday, the Reign traveled to Henderson for a quick turnaround match and back-to-back game against the Silver Knights. With a home court opportunity for the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs on the line, Ontario coach Marco Sturm was probably grateful to have the services of his old friend Carl Grundstrom.

Grundstrom, who played full-time with the Kings for the past four seasons, suffered an injury in February and was placed on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). The 26-year-old decided to return to his former American Hockey League team to rehab and get ready to play as the Kings shift their focus to the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Facing off against former Reign teammate Sheldon Rempal on Saturday night, Grundstrom's (1) impact was immediate as he scored the game's first goal just 2:33 minutes into the first frame. He showed the confidence that Sturm had in Grundstrom, playing up front with TJ Tynan and Sammy Fagemo.

Ontario scored again quickly on their next shot after Samuel Helenius sank a clever pass to Jacob Doty (6) on a break behind the opposing defenders, making the final score 2-0. And it didn't stop there…

On the very next Reign shot, Brandt Clarke (9) completed an offensive drive where he ran down the wing and shot a goal to the other side to beat the goalie. Ontario scored three goals on its first four shots and the score was 3-0 just six minutes into the game.

Henderson hit back a few minutes later with a shorthanded goal. After a bad rebound off the lineman's skates, the Silver Knights stormed into the Reign zone and placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of starter Erik Portillo, 3-1.

The Reign quickly snatched any momentum out of the gate and rebounded with another goal of their own just 39 seconds later. On the sixth shot of the game, Ontario took a 4-1 lead when Grundstrom scored on Hayden Hodgson (6) and forced Henderson into an early goalie change at 8:47.

The first period was quick and ended with a three-goal lead for the Reign; However, the wheels fell off in the second phase.

Sturm had often spoken about missed opportunities over the past week, highlighting worrying moments in which his team would temporarily break out of their structure and allow their opponents to get back into games. The second half began and the worrisome game reared its ugly head as Reign struggled to maintain the lead – conceding three goals in a row, including one in the shootout.

At the start of the third period the score was tied 4-4, Reign rallied despite a strong shot differential against the game and Andre Lee (8) scored a rebound that would lead to the win in this game. Portillo fended off further chances and closed the door to win his sixth straight game with a final score of 5-4.

The win in Henderson mathematically secured the Reign's home win in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. This will be a three-game series with the entire set played only at the home team's arena. It was therefore important for Sturm and his club to secure this advantage. A tweet sent out by the team pointed to April 24th as the possible start of the series.

Portillo's test: After Friday's win over San Diego, Sturm expressed his desire to name a No. 1 goaltender to lead the Reign through the playoffs – and he prefers Portillo. To prepare his new goaltender for the increased workload, Ontario's bench boss turned to Portillo again on the second night of a back-to-back weekend game. Although he allowed four goals, the 6-foot-2 goalkeeper probably could have used the help of his teammates in all of those situations except one where he would probably be happy to come back.

This was only Portillo's second consecutive opportunity, but he still took two wins. In his previous set in December, he lost both games against Abbotsford, allowing a combined nine goals in both games.

Basic current rules (again): During the post-game media availability, Sturm praised Grundstrom and his decision to go to the AHL to get ready for his return to the NHL. The Swedish forward contributed two points (1G, 1A) to help Ontario win. It was his first AHL game since the 2019-2020 season.

Lee is clutch: The standout forward made an impact on his team immediately upon his return from injury with five points (4G, 1A) in six games, including his first game-winning goal of the season this one. His goals so far this month have been just as important in either tying the game or giving Ontario the go-ahead score.

Turc contributes: Alex Turcotte, playing in the third game of a conditioning assignment, has points in two consecutive contests (2A) and has his fingerprints in all three. He looks good and looks to be back in top form after missing some time with an upper body injury.

Newbie Brandt Clarke: The veteran blueliner increased his contributions with eight points (1G, 7A) in nine games, including his first goal since returning from his NHL roster. In Clarke's first professional season, he turned heads with 42 points (9G, 33A) in 47 games played while leading all rookie defensemen (with at least 10 games played) in points per game.

What you should pay attention to: The Reign begin their final week of the season with three away games. They travel to Bakersfield on Wednesday to face the Condors and close out play with a doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday against the Eagles in Colorado.


Reign Recap: Fagemo breaks Reign record with OT winner (plus video)


Note for webmasters/reporters: If you summarize news or interviews from this site, please remember to include a link to

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-522840723937225840-1'); });