In case you missed today’s notebook in print, check it out online here.
A few items we didn’t have room for …
The Reign are a pretty safe bet to lead the league in attendance with an average of 6,451 per game (a 10.2 percent improvement on last season). That’s 157 more fans than their nearest competitor, Toledo, and 445 more than third-place Stockton. Toledo has no home games remaining and the Thunder only have one, so it’s looking good.
Head coach Karl Taylor, who never seems intimidated by anything, said it was “intimidating to realize how much [fans] had invested in us” during an “open house” after the Reign’s final regular-season home game.
“I never left my office for six hours. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Taylor said. “The fans are very passionate about their team, about this arena. It was a scary event, a really long day, but it was awesome to meet the fans. … Nothing against the National Hockey League, but you don’t get that access.”
Colten Teubert was also left feeling a bit overwhelmed by the fan support — something the White Rock, B.C. native didn’t expect to see in Southern California.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. It was crazy. It’s just awesome that we have that kind of support, that fans have that kind of passion for us want us to win that bad. It’s really exciting to see all the support.”
He said that his junior team, the Regina Pats, averaged four to six thousand fans. “It depends on how good we’re playing,” he said. “Usually if we’re playing bad there’s 4,000, or playing good, closer to five or six on Friday.”
The coach said he wasn’t worried about the process of integrating rookies Jordan Nolan or C.J. Stretch into the lineup, even though only two practices and three games are left in the regular season. “It’s not that hard. It’s something we deal with all the time at this level.
“It’s also a chance to look at players for next season as well. Maybe C.J. Stretch is a guy that ends up coming back here next year. He’s a guy that gets to meet me, see how we do things. Maybe Jordan. It’s a good process – you get a sneak preview.”
Speaking of process, even though both players came to the Inland Empire direct from Canadian junior teams, there were no immigration issues with either Stretch or Nolan joining for the Reign. Stretch is an Irvine native and American citizen, while Nolan is a Native American (known in Canada as “First Nations”) for whom “the border is non-existent,” Taylor said.
I asked the requisite question of Nolan about being the son of a former NHL head coach (Ted Nolan).
“It was hockey 24-7 in my house,” Jordan Nolan said. “My brother played, my dad played, so I had to be next.
However, it wasn’t as if they were going over X’s and O’s around the dinner table.
“Not much (hockey) lessons, no,” he added. “It was just about life – if you work hard at things, you’re going to get results. Same things goes in hockey. But not too much about going over video and talking about plays at home – more about working hard.”
Stretch and Tim Kraus, a Garden Grove native, have a unique connection. They grew up playing against each other, then Stretch played with Kraus’ younger brother Kevin on the Kamloops Blazers for two seasons. Like Kraus, Stretch is already enjoying the proximity to home.
“I drove home (Sunday) and it was 38 minutes away, so I went to see family,” he said. “During the fan event, a lot of people I grew up playing hockey with congratulated me.”