Kings players of Reign ancestry are excited to return to Ontario for the Empire Classic on Wednesday

With two extra pre-season games behind them, the Los Angeles Kings now set their sights on another game with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night in Ontario at the Toyota Arena, home of the Ontario Reigns. The inaugural “Empire Classic” will be an opportunity for Inland Empire hockey fans to take part in an NHL game.

In recent years, many Kings players across Ontario have come along the way in their development process with fond memories of playing in front of the region’s dedicated fan base.

The Reign has been one of the most successful AHL teams on the commercial side, having been up front with one of the league’s highest season ticket member bases and average attendance per game who ranked in the top five among the league’s markets during both 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

While we don’t know exactly who will be in uniform on Wednesday night, there are sure to be several ex-Reign players in the Los Angeles squad as the team continues to assess its roster ahead of the 2022-23 campaign kick-off two weeks from tonight.

Defenseman Jordan Spence, who played his first pre-season game in the National Hockey League Monday night in Vegas, is one of the newest players to have had success in Ontario. Spence was named to the first All-Star Team in the AHL as well as the All-Rookie in the league at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season after scoring 42 points in 46 games on four goals and 38 assists along with a +18 rating.

“I played there pretty much all last season so playing there would be very comfortable if you were in the squad,” Spence said. “There will be a lot of fans watching us which will be really cool so I am looking forward to it if I play tomorrow.”

Spence was going up with Kings down the extension, and he helped the team secure a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But before he was called up, he was in the lineup with Reign on several of the team’s promotional nights.

“Featured T-shirt nights and Teddy Bear Toss, these are very special games,” Spence said. “There are a lot of fans there as well as supporting and encouraging us so I think in general, just playing there with the atmosphere we have and the rink we have, it was really great. We had a great team last year and I think it will be good again this year. It’s really fun to play with these guys.”

One of those players that Spence spent a lot of time on the ice was TJ Tynan, who earned his second consecutive AHL Most Valuable Player award in his first season in Ontario. Soon becoming a standout player, Tainan felt at home in the Inland Empire, where he finished scoring 98 points with 14 goals and 84 assists. The center made its pre-season debut with the Kings in Sunday’s competition in San Jose and could appear in the lineup again on Wednesday.

“We had this mentality last year that even if we didn’t win, it would be really hard for the opponent to win in our building,” Tainan said. “It would be great for everyone to see the fans and the skating rink that we’re going to play in MLS. There will be a lot of NHL regulars out there and they can see the amazing situation we’re having here in LA with us being so close to the Kings and everyone else. It’s a great setup so it’s going to be great For everyone to see for themselves.”

Like Spence, defender Mickey Anderson has also started his pro career in Ontario and could return to the Toyota Arena as he prepares for his fourth campaign in the Kings organization.

“My biggest memories are just having my first pro matches there,” said Anderson, who was with Reign in 53 games during the 2019-20 season. “Then my brother [Joey] He was in the All-Star Game there so it was fun to go watch him when he came for it.”

Another player in the system who became a pro at the same time as Anderson is goalkeeper Matt Vilalta, who joined Reign in 22 games when he was 20 years old. Now with 86 AHL games under his belt, all of which have been with Ontario, Velta is definitely familiar with the fans and the atmosphere in the building.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity if I get the okay,” Vilalta said of the prospect of playing on Wednesday night. “It’s always fun to go play in front of our fans in Ontario and also the Kings fans who will be making the trip. I think it will be a real fun experience for the fans and us players as well, especially the players who played with Reign before and are now wearing this Kings jersey at Inland Empire. Hopefully we can Win-win for everyone.

Velalta is always a fan of Ontario fans, and knows what to expect, if he sees the network tomorrow night.

“Playing there now for the past few years, I know the feel and the atmosphere with our fans and it’s always really good. It’s always going to be a pleasure. Anytime you wear a Kings jersey, even if it’s a pre-season game, you wear it with pride and you want to go out there and do your best.” possible work.”

Another member of Reign’s roster last year who mentioned the great vibe was Frederick Allard, who joined the AHL group as a deadline to trade before re-signing with the Kings for the upcoming campaign. Allard had a smaller taste of what it was like to play there but is eager to come back.

“I can’t wait to go back to Ontario,” Allard said. “The people there are nice, the rink is great and the fans are great so it’s going to be a great time for sure. Their atmosphere is great, the fans are very close to you. We don’t see the fans much during the week so going out there on the weekends it’s great and everyone here can’t wait To go out there and play a match, that’s for sure.”

Aidan Dudas has yet to play for Los Angeles during pre-season, so it’s possible that his debut in Ontario would be a good fit for the striker entering the third year of an entry-level contract with the Kings. Dudas was another part of the successful Reign team a year ago and played over 100 games for Ontario in his career.

“It would be great,” Dudas said. “I think it’s great to be playing in Ontario and for the fans to see some of the Kings players as well. The fans are always raising our level and I think we play well in front of them. We are always really excited to play at home.”

Samuel Fajimo, who became an Ontario fan favorite last season with 27 goals pre-season, may also get a chance to wear the Kings jersey at IE on Wednesday. Fagemo starred in the Kings vs. Kings last year, scoring an impressive goal that impressed head coach Todd McLellan.

This year, Fagemo is auditioning for a role with L.A., and she practices on line with Philip Danault and Trevor Moore on Tuesday at the Toyota Sports Performance Center. McLellan confirmed that Danault will be in the squad on Wednesday night to make his pre-season debut and is likely to be joined by Fagemo.

“If I’m playing tomorrow, it’s going to be a really fun experience,” Fagmio said. “The only thing I see is the fans. It’s very fun to play there and it’s a really nice arena, I think that was great every night for us.”

Wednesday’s game starts at 7pm and limited tickets can still be purchased Here through the covenant. We’ll have a full preview coming in the morning as well as coverage throughout the day as Kings and Sharks face off for the second time in pre-season events!

ONTARIO, CA – DECEMBER 15: Ontario Reign against Iowa Wild at Toyota Arena on December 15, 2019 in Ontario, California. (Photo by Foster Snell / Ontario Reign)

ONTARIO, CA – DECEMBER 15: Ontario Reign against Iowa Wild at Toyota Arena on December 15, 2019 in Ontario, California. (Photo by Foster Snell / Ontario Reign)

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