The ECHL announced that it has fined Reign left wing James McEwan an undisclosed amount as a result of his actions at the end of last Thursday’s game in Las Vegas. McEwan was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing.
He is fined under Rule 29 Supplemental Discipline. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, player fines collected by the ECHL are given to the PHPA for its ECHL Player’s Hardship Fund.
Forwards Brian Matte and Dan Leslie were released Monday morning, trimming the Reign’s training camp roster to 25.
“We have lots of guys that we feel are obviously better than them, that’s why we released them,” coach Karl Taylor said. “It’s hard when you get released or you don’t make a team, or you don’t get picked for something, you feel like it’s your own fault. There is some ownership there, but we have pretty high-level players in camp this year.
“Both those guys would probably have made our team last year.”
Matte appeared in the Reign’s preseason opener Thursday night in Las Vegas, while Leslie’s only game action came a night later at Center Ice Arena. Both were kept off the scoresheet. Neither Matte, 21, nor Leslie, 23, have played in the ECHL before.
Jon Francisco and Greg Hogeboom scored goals, but the Reign were outplayed on special teams and had a hard time controlling the zone in a 5-2 loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers at Orleans Arena. Curtis Darling made 35 saves in goal.
More details in tomorrow’s editions; the two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Friday at Center Ice Arena.
As with any sport, the value of an ECHL preseason game lies less in getting a win as much as assessing the team’s talent, deciding who to keep and who to cut.
“We’ll try to get everybody in and if not, oh well. That’s life,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said.
In a way, this is an even more delicate exercise in the ECHL, with so much turnover from year to year (although the Reign have a particularly high retention rate — 12 of the 30 players who appeared in a game last season are back). But for more than half of his 27 players, Karl Taylor has no frame of reference for how they’ll execute for him in a game. On the other hand, there can be as much turnover during the ECHL season as the off-season because of AHL recalls, injuries, trades, and the occasional roster cut. Maybe none of the players on tonight’s roster will make it through to the end of the season in Ontario.
Karl Taylor has never brought back as many as five players on one defense from one year to the next as an ECHL coach. “Hopefully they’re the five good ones,” he joked.
Back are Shawn Germain, Dan Knapp, David Walker, Chad Starling and Andrew Martens. Gone are Darren McMillan (IHL), P.J. Atherton (Europe) and Colten Teubert (WHL). In their place are newcomers Cameron Cepek, Brian Kilburg and Mike Egener. Their average height: 6-foot-3. Though it’s possible that one or two would get cut before the regular-season opener, Taylor said he’s open to keeping all eight on the roster.
David Walker is still commuting from Long Beach, which sounds insufferable until he tells you he’s got XM satellite radio as company on the 100-mile round-trip drive. The defenseman, a veteran of four ECHL seasons and another in the Central Hockey League, called this year’s team overall “the most talented I’ve been a part of.”
Andrew Martens is somewhat of a focal point for the Reign defense — as long as he’s here, at least. Martens and P.J. Atherton were the team’s top two offensive defensemen last season, so much so that each spent significant time in the American Hockey League but still ranked first and third, respectively, in scoring among Reign blueliners.
Atherton is now playing in Europe. There was no guarantee that Martens would be here either, after he began training camp in Manitoba with the Moose of the American Hockey League.