In my first year covering the ECHL, and probably the first year watching the ECHL for a lot of Reign fans, it’s beginning to look like one of the streakiest leagues on the planet.
You might recall the Victoria Salmon Kings did not lose for 15 straight games spanning December and January, including a sweep of the Reign in British Columbia Jan. 9 and 10, a pair of 5-2 losses. Well, after that they were a measly 4-12 coming into Wednesday’s game; the Reign were getting hot, having won two straight (after losing three of four); and on Wednesday … the streakiness continued.
Among the positives for the Reign:
• Jeff Zatkoff returned from his groin injury and got the win (one of the goals was really no fault of his own);
• Bud Holloway, whom Karl Taylor picked up at the airport a night earlier upon reassignment from Manchester, scored a goal in his ECHL debut;
• Dale Reinhardt scored two goals off two Mike Howe assists;
• Las Vegas lost earlier in the day, so the Reign are in first place in the Pacific Division standings by two points with a game in hand on the Wranglers
The unintentional highlight: Lakewood native Travis Ramsey accidentally scooping the puck between his own goalie’s five-hole to give the Reign a 4-2 lead in the third period. “I just kinda looked down, scraped some ice away and all of a sudden people started cheering; I didn’t know what happened until they showed the replay,” said Zatkoff. The goal was credited to David Walker, the last Reign player to touch the puck (official scoresheet here).
Reinhardt’s contribution was notable in that he was sort of a “bubble guy” when Denny Johnston came back from Manchester. That is, if and when Itan Chavira, and possibly Ryan Bowness, were healthy, he might have been among the players on the bubble for getting traded or released. Reinhardt – and Howe, for that matter – seem to be playing their way off the bubble.
Still, some tough roster decisions lie ahead – especially at goalie, where John Murray is back in Ontario but might get squeezed out of the picture. More on this in my next post.