Rheault in Flames’ camp, still shaggy.

Reign forward Jon Rheault is enjoying his time at the Calgary Flames’ NHL development camp this week. It sounds like he’ll be enjoying it more once he can get a haircut.

From the Abbotsford News:

For Jon Rheault, becoming a Heat fan favourite was a matter of style and substance.

The 23-year-old right winger, called up from the ECHL in late
March, scored a string of clutch goals during the Heat’s playoff run.
That he did so while sporting a spectacular mullet only added to the

Rheault’s magnificent mane wasn’t necessarily a fashion
statement. The goal was to grow his locks to eight inches long and
donate them to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which makes wigs
for women who have lost their hair during cancer treatment.

At the moment, the mullet is still intact.

“It’s still not the length it needs to be all the way around,”
explained Rheault, who has gone more than a year between haircuts. “The
top is at the right length to donate, but the sides and back aren’t.
Hopefully it’s soon, because I’m getting a little bit of crap for having
it this long. It’s annoying – I can’t wait to get rid of it.”

Rheault led the Heat in playoff goal-scoring with six in 13
games, and less than a week after the Heat’s season concluded, he inked
an AHL contract with Abbotsford. He’s determined to build on his
sterling playoff performance.

“When you have a good end to the season, it’s a fun summer,” he said. “I’m going to use that confidence in the fall.”

Two preseason games reported.

According to the Lodi News-Sentinel,
the Reign will play two preseason games against the Stockton Thunder: One at Stockton Arena on Friday, October 8 and again the next night in

The Ontario location has yet to be announced, and it’s unknown whether
the Reign will play any other preseason contests. The Reign have played
two preseason games (one home, one away) in both of their first two
seasons. The Thunder will have an additional two preseason games in
Alaska before facing the Reign, according to the News-Sentinel.

There are no events currently listed for October 9 on the Citizens Business Bank Arena home page,
so the Reign could conceivably play the game at The Bank. The last two
seasons, however, Center Ice Arena has hosted both of the Reign’s home
preseason dates.

The Reign open the regular season in Stockton on Oct. 15.

Taylor on re-signing Tim Kraus.

It’s not often that an undrafted free-agent hockey player invests the first three years of his pro career in an ECHL team. But the relationship between Tim Kraus and the Ontario Reign is unique. The Garden Grove native is unusually committed to helping his “home-town” team succeed, and the feeling seems to be mutual.

Reign coach Karl Taylor knows what it will take for Kraus get to the next level of pro hockey and is willing to help.

Continue reading “Taylor on re-signing Tim Kraus.” »

Tim Kraus re-signs.

Center Tim Kraus has re-signed with the Reign.

The 23-year-old from Garden Grove was second on the team in scoring last season, with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 70 games. He also collected 68 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating while seeing time on both the power play and the penalty kill.

Kraus said Thursday that he’s confident he will be able to rebound from a slow start that saw him score two goals in his first 20 games last year. Even after a disappointing season that saw the Reign miss the playoffs entirely, Kraus said there was no place he’d rather play.

“Pretty much as soon as last season ended I knew I’d be coming back, unless I was offered something in a better league. I didn’t see that happening after this year. I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to go up (to the AHL) last year. I don’t have an agent as well. I just felt it wouldn’t be my time – I haven’t had that experience yet,” he said.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Taylor on Doyle, Lewadniuk.

Karl Taylor confirmed what the statistics of Eric Doyle and Aaron Lewadniuk suggest: The two newest members of the Reign were among the most coveted 20-year-old free agents on the market.

“They’re both young kids, both offensive talents,” the Reign coach said. “We wanted to be younger. These two, along with C.J. (Stretch) help us accomplish that. We think they’ll give us more energy, more bite and chase the carrot a bit more.”

Continue reading “Taylor on Doyle, Lewadniuk.” »

Reign tap the WHL pipeline for two more.

Another pair of 20-year-old rookies from the Western Hockey League have signed with the Reign: Eric Doyle and Aaron Lewadniuk.

A 6-foot-2, 192-pound defenseman, Doyle comes to Ontario from the Portland (Ore.) Winterhawks, where he scored 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 35 games last season. He added a goal and eight points in 13 postseason games, second only to recent Nashville Predators draft pick Taylor Aronson among Portland defensemen (and more than former first-round NHL draft pick Luca Sbisa). In 2008-09, Doyle set career highs with 12 goals and 55 points in 71 games for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, both team highs among defensemen.

Lewadniuk was a teammate of former Kings draft pick Brayden Schenn with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound center actually scored more goals than Schenn last season – 37 to 34 – albeit in six more games. Lewadniuk also totaled 49 assists, a total of 86 points in 65 games. Only three Wheat Kings had more points than Lewadniuk last season, and all (Schenn, Matt Calvert and Scott Glennie) have been drafted by NHL teams.

Although there are more contracts to be announced, it’s clear from his early signings that head coach Karl Taylor is intent on turning around an offense that has ranked last in the ECHL in goals scored each of its first two seasons. Four of them (Doyle, Lewadniuk, C.J. Stretch and Jon Francisco) are capable scorers while the fifth, stay-at-home defenseman Chad Starling, may be better than all of them in the shootout.

Notes on Francisco, Stretch, G.Walker.

Nothing new under the hot, hot sun by Citizens Business Bank Arena, but there’s some good reading material on Jon Francisco and C.J. Stretch elsewhere on the Web.

Also, contrary to a Facebook rumor, Geoff Walker isn’t going to Russia next season. “Some of the boys were playing a Facebook prank on me,” he said. “It was one big joke that snowballed.”

Walker hasn’t finalized his plans for next season yet. The 22-year-old winger said is working out the details on a contract that will keep him in North America, though he wouldn’t say where. “I’m pretty excited about it,” he said.

Walker was one of eight players tendered a qualifying offer by the Reign.

Checking in with C.J. Stretch.

C.J. Stretch won’t soon forget his first day at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

“I went to the fan appreciation thing,” he said of a meet-and-greet with coaches and players in March. “I hadn’t played a game yet, and (the fans) were all so excited I was coming there. It was a pretty good transition.”

Continue reading “Checking in with C.J. Stretch.” »