Barracuda at Reign Preview: First vs. worst

The Barracuda have dominated the Pacific this season, while the Reign have struggled.

The San Jose Barracuda have wreaked havoc on the Pacific Division of the American Hockey  League this season. With a record of 19-7-1-3, they have confidently sat in first place for almost the entire season. The Tucson Roadrunners are their closest competition, with a 17-9-3-1 record. Today, the 'Cuda face the team furthest behind them, the last place Ontario Reign.

It’s no secret the Los Angeles Kings have faced several hurdles this season, one of the biggest being their Injured Reserve. They lost both their starting and backup goaltenders earlier in the season, stripping the Reign of their starter and backup, as both were called up to the NHL. The Reign have lost several players to the Kings, leaving their roster inconsistent. It’s hard to build chemistry when your teammates are constantly moving up and down to suit the big clubs’ needs. They currently hold a less-than-stellar 10-14-3-2 record, but under these circumstances, can you really blame them?

The Reign have lost their last three games, with their last win coming in a shootout against the San Diego Gulls. They haven’t won a game in regulation since November. Their last game was on New Year's Eve against the Bakersfield Condors, where they fell 1-3. Brad Morrison had the lone goal for Ontario. Cal Petersen returned between the pipes for Ontario, having spent a majority of the season with the Kings.

The Barracuda are coming off a loss themselves, but it was a hard fought one to say the least. Down 4-2 with three minutes left in the game, the San Diego Gulls were called for interference and the 'Cuda were on a 6-on-4 power play with 50 seconds left. A buzzer beater was scored by Jon Martin and San Jose lost 4-3.

The last time these teams met was a few weeks ago in Ontario. The Barracuda came home with a 5-2 win. Kale Clague and Matt Moulson scored two goals for Ontario, but the game was all San Jose’s. Nick DeSimone and Jon Martin got the 'Cuda on the board early. Alex True, Dylan Gambrell and Francis Perron sealed the deal for San Jose with their goals in the second and third periods.

San Jose has had a good time playing Ontario this season, but the Reign can’t be counted out. They’ve lost too many games and will be out for blood against a California rival. These two teams will see each other twice more this month, both in San Jose, so this could be the start to some serious beef. Puck drops at Citizens Business Bank Arena today at 6:00 PT. It’s apparently Wild West Night in Ontario so ... yeehaw, I guess? The game will be broadcast on AHL TV and KDOW.