Open tryout invitees announced.

Three lucky open-tryout campers have been invited to take part in the Reign’s main camp beginning Friday:

Mike Thomson of La Habra Heights, Josh Newton of Riverside, and Gabriel Andre of Edmonton.

Thomson, you might recall, was among six open tryout players invited to take part in the Reign’s inaugural training camp. He was also among the final players cut (check out the story I wrote about Thomson at the time, after the jump).

Newton is an experienced player from a large hockey-playing family that includes younger brother and Ducks prospect Jake Newton.

Andre was also an invitee to the Las Vegas Wranglers’ camp a year ago after passing the Wranglers’ open tryout. He has quite a story, and a collection of gnarly videos, from something known as Red Bull Crashed Ice.

Thomson, Newton and Andre will be needed with a total of 10 off-season signees currently in American Hockey League camps: Pierre-Andre Bureau (Manchester), Eric Doyle (Manchester), Jordan Hill (Manchester), Kyle Kraemer (Manchester), Jordan Morrison (Manchester), C.J. Stretch (Manchester), Reggie Traccitto (Manchester), Aaron Lewadniuk (Manitoba), Matt Delahey (Providence) and Dusty Collins (San Antonio).

ONTARIO — When the Reign held open tryouts in September for
anyone interested in playing for the Inland Empire’s first pro hockey team,
it’s no stretch to say Mike Thomson went out on the biggest limb.

The La Habra Heights native decided to forego his senior
season at Plattsburgh State in upstate New York just to earn an ECHL roster
spot on the expansion team near his home town.

“I just decided it was time to move away from school,”
Thomson said, “and I decided to come out here and play for this team.”

That’s easier said than done. Of the 69 tryout participants,
only six were invited to training camp. Of those six, only two (Thomson and
Itan Chavira) remain on the roster three days before the Reign’s regular-season
opener in Bakersfield.

Thomson is here as a result of both skill and serendipity,
but to the 24-year-old it really doesn’t matter.

“This is the only (tryout) I did,” Thomson said. “I had a
couple other backup plans, but this is where I wanted to be, what I wanted from
day one.”

Two forwards expected to start the season with the Reign,
Denny Johnston and Jon Rheault, remain with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in
Manchester, N.H. on pro tryout contracts. Their absence, Reign coach Karl
Taylor said, was “very unexpected.”

But it created an opportunity for both Thomson and Chavira,
an Upland resident who had a goal and an assist, as well as a spectacular
shootout goal, in the preseason. Thomson has been kept off the stat sheet and
his fan base has been less vocal, but his unexpected contributions have been no
less notable than Chavira’s.

“He seems to be smart on the ice,” Taylor said of Thomson.
“It’s a stretch for him to be here but he’s shown some things; he skates well
enough. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s shown enough to stick around above
the other guys we released, in my opinion.”

Thomson had a solid Division III college career, scoring 26
goals and 58 points in 74 career games for the Cardinals. But he never played
more than 30 games in a season and is relishing the opportunity to prove
himself over a 74-game ECHL campaign – even though he “didn’t really expect to”
still be here.

“It’s a day-to-day thing, you never know what’s going to go
on,” Thomson said. “You just try to stay here as much as possible.”

This entry was posted in Ontario Reign/ECHL and tagged , , by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.
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