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LA Kings Re-Sign Hicketts, Ward For 2024-25

May 24, 2024
Written By: Ontario Reign

The LA Kings announced multiple player signings Friday, including the re-signing of forward Taylor Ward and defender Joe Hicketts, both of whom played for the Ontario Reign during the 2023-24 season.

Ward, 26, recently completed his second full season with the Reign, establishing career-highs in goals (11), assists (21) and points (32) in 71 games with a team-high plus-23 rating, the highest plus-minus rating to finish a season by a Reign player since Kurtis MacDermid (+24) in the 2015-16 campaign. Ward added two goals and five assists (2-5=7) with a plus-6 in eight Calder Cup Playoff appearances to tie for the team's postseason scoring lead. 

The 6-2, 195-pound forward made his professional hockey debut with the Reign on March 20, 2022, against the Abbotsford Canucks following his senior season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) and has accumulated 68 points (23-45=68) in 158 career AHL outings with the Reign. Since joining the Reign, he’s been in the lineup for 158 of the team’s 160 games played, missing only a single game each of his last two full AHL seasons. 

Prior to turning pro, Ward spent four years with the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC), appearing in 131 NCAA games and collecting 115 points (57-58=115), including a team-leading 19 goals and 39 points (19-20=39) in 38 games as a senior in 2021-22. Ward ranks sixth in program history in goals, 10th in points and tied for eighth in points-per-game (0.88, min. 50 games).

A native of Kelowna, B.C., he skated in parts of four seasons with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), collecting 77 points (36-41=77) in 162 games while helping the Vees capture the 2016-17 Fred Page Cup as BCHL Champions.

Hicketts, 28, appeared in 30 games with the Reign last season, notching 20 points (1-19=20) and added one goal and five assists (1-5=6) in eight Calder Cup Playoff games.

Signed by the Detroit Red Wings as an undrafted free agent on Sep. 24, 2014, Hicketts has skated in 22 career NHL games - all with Detroit - collecting five assists (0-5=5). The 5-8, 176-pound blueliner began his professional playing career with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL and has earned 217 points (35-182=217) with 290 PIM and a plus-18 rating in 449 career AHL games split between Ontario, Iowa and Grand Rapids.

In 39 career Calder Cup Playoff games, Hicketts has produced 18 points (2-16=18) and helped Grand Rapids to a Calder Cup Championship in 2017, where he contributed eight points (1-7=8) in 19 postseason contests.

Prior to turning pro, Hicketts played four seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL), tallying 173 points (32-141=173) with 149 PIM and a plus-69 rating in 224 career games with the Victoria Royals. He earned WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team honors in 2016 and Second All-Star Team in 2015. Hicketts also skated in 31 WHL playoff games, collecting 15 points (1-14=15).

Internationally, the Kamloops, British Columbia native represented Canada at International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) events on three occasions, including two IIHF World Junior Championships (2016 - alternate captain, 2015 - gold) and one IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship (2014 - bronze). In 19 contests, he posted 10 points (2-8=10).