The Reign match their largest defeat of the season but, as Jon Francisco said, “we didn’t play as bad a game as the score said we did.”
Scoring chances were close to even tonight and the Reign actually led in shots on goal, 35-30. But thanks in large part to Vegas goalie Matt Keetley, fresh off an AHL demotion, only one went in – Ryan MacGregor’s third-period power play deflection of a nice Geoff Walker pass in the crease.
Reign fans, rejoice: Your team is 4-1-1 against Stockton in its inaugural season. Sure, a few more fans show up for the Thunder’s home games (6,301) than yours (5,398). But at least your team doesn’t play in the worst city in America.
Light-scoring defensemen Darren McMillan and Shawn Germain gave a lot of interesting insights into their jobs that I wasn’t able to include in today’s story about the Reign’s light-scoring defensemen.
John Murray’s stint with the AHL Syracuse Crunch could end within the week. At least, it’s looking that way after reports that Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is targeting a Friday return against the Detroit Red Wings. Columbus recalled goalie Dan LaCosta from Syracuse to take the place of Mason, thus creating room for Murray in Syracuse. If/when LaCosta goes back to Syracuse, Murray could be on his way back west.
A somewhat obscure ECHL deadline passed under the radar a week ago today, the final day teams could add players playing overseas to their roster for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Karl Taylor said today that he had taken a look at players currently in Europe, but “timing and deadlines” prevented any from signing with the Reign.
“You’ve got to sign them three weeks prior to the deadline because you’ve got to do immigration on them,” Taylor said. “Same if they’re Canadian, you’ve got to do immigration on them. On that day, they have to be immigration compliant, have a visa, be here. It takes a lot.”
The Reign get their second win against the Aces this year in seven tries, holding steady on defense (8-for-8 on the PK) until the offense caught up … and who should do the honors of tying the game at 1 but defenseman Chad Starling, scoring his first goal in his 46th game.
Jon Rheault deflected in a deep slapshot by P.J. Atherton with 20 seconds to play for the eventual game-winner. Both goals, in fact, came as a result of pucks sent in low from just inside the blueline, giving the Reign little excuse for not firing away more often (on top of the “20 times a day” Karl Taylor has exhorted them to shoot more). Alaska pulled its goalie for the final 20 seconds and Denny Johnston skated almost the length of the ice to notch an empty-netter, his first goal as a member of the Reign.
You could say it was a day of breakthroughs on “Pink at the Rink” night (the Reign players were all wearing pink-tinged jerseys, which were auctioned off after the game). More details in tomorrow’s editions.
The Reign will be wearing pink uniforms tonight against the Alaska Aces. No, they didn’t accidentally mix them in the washing machine with the red practice jerseys – it’s a promotion called “Pink at the Rink” to raise money for breast cancer.
The first 5,000 fans receive a commemorative puck, and afterwards the jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the Mary Kay Ash charitable foundation. Tickets start at $12 and a few are expected to be available at the box office. More info here.
The Reign match their largest margin of defeat ever before 6,569 — not including two lineup scratches and five Zooperstars. Coach Taylor says it’s “the first time all year we didn’t show up to play.” Geoff Walker scored on a redirect of a P.J. Atherton slapshot late in the second period, and that was the lone scoring highlight for the Reign.
What’s worse is that Stockton was down three players to start, down four to finish, and still dominated end to end. Kellen Briggs was a perfect 17-for-17 stopping pucks in a brutal first period for the Reign, but just 13-for-18 afterwards.
Denny Johnston made his season debut in limited playing time and flashed some speed and tenacity. Other than that, it was a game to forget. The game report is here; more details in tomorrow’s editions.
Syracuse decided to wait until today to type up its press release on John Murray and, from the looks of it, Murray might not be in the AHL very long. It will probably depend on how much time Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason needs off the ice to recover from the mononucleosis he’s been battling for some time now. (Syracuse is Columbus’ AHL affilaite.)
The Syracuse Crunch’s scouting department must have liked what it saw from John Murray recently, as they signed the Reign netminder to a pro tryout agreement Thursday that will give the 21-year-old his first shot at the next level. Dennis Cook has been signed as the emergency backup to Kellen Briggs for tomorrow’s game against visiting Stockton.