The Kings are expected to assign Manchester Monarchs forward Andrei Loktionov to the Reign for the purpose of bringing him to Southern California in advance of their game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Neither the Kings nor the Reign have made an official announcement yet, and it’s doubtful that Loktionov will have time to suit up for the Reign’s game tonight against the Bakersfield Condors.
Even if he does play tonight, Loktionov won’t be in Ontario long. If Kings forward Wayne Simmonds, who injured his knee Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, is healthy enough to play Thursday, Loktionov is expected to be sent back to Manchester. If Simmonds can’t play, then Loktionov will be added to the Kings’ roster. Simmonds participated in a full practice Wednesday and is “a possibility,” according to Kings coach Terry Murray.
Here’s what we know: Beau Erickson will be the starter in goal tonight against Bakersfield, defenseman Luke Beaverson will return to the Reign’s lineup for the first time since Dec. 17, and defenseman Doug Krantz will be scratched from the lineup.
Beaverson has taken longer than even he expected to recover from a lower-body injury.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “I’m excited to get back at it. It feels like it’s been too long.”
Although Beaverson is known for his penalty-killing prowess, and was playing heavy minutes before the injury, Karl Taylor said that the defenseman will be eased in tonight.
“We want to work him in like we would any new player,” Taylor said. “He’s been out an extended period of time. You want him to have confidence in his play, and have success early. So Luke is a big body, a big strong guy, plays hard down low. We’ve missed him and Chad a lot. We welcome him with open arms.”
Michael Pelech will be back at center as the primary beneficiary of the minutes vacated by Dusty Collins’ return to the American Hockey League.
Collins was counted upon mostly as a shutdown center, a penalty-killer and a force in the faceoff circle. He also chipped win with a pair of game-winning goals last week, while Pelech’s offensive numbers are down across the board this season. Pelech has three goals and eight points in 27 games - below his pace from a year ago, when he scored 10 goals and 35 points in 72 games.
“He’s gone through a little bit of a rough patch,” Taylor said. “That’s why we sat him out the one game (Jan 12. against Alaska). It wasn’t to send messages, but just because it was the right decision based on the other players we had available. With the suspension and the way things happened, he got back in really quickly. And he played well the last two games. I hope Michael can push forward. We both hope he’s going in the right direction and continues to become a bigger part of what we’re trying to do.”
Pelech broke a drought of 15 games without a goal Saturday in Bakersfield, a sharp-angled shot from just above the goal line.
“There have been chances during the game, I just haven’t been putting ‘em in,” he said. “Getting one there was very nice, especially a kind of fluky one. … I saw him (the goalie) standing up. Worst case scenario, there would have been a rebound.”