Reign 4, Utah 3, OT.

The Reign managed to take three of a possible six points from the Grizzlies, the first-place team in the other (Mountain) Division, on the strength of a Pat Bowen point shot that got through at 2:03 of overtime.

The Mountain trip isn’t over yet – its fourth and final game awaits tomorrow night against the Idaho Steelheads – but it’s off to a decent 1-1-1 start. The win allowed the Reign (14-26-1-2) to keep pace with the Victoria Salmon Kings (18-24-1-2) and remain eight points out of the seventh and final Western Conference playoff position with two games in hand.

And in the midst of an impossibly lousy season at home, it’s no small feat that the Reign are now 10-11-1-1 on the road. They can pull to .500 away from CBBA (ignoring the OT/SO columns) with a win in Boise.

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Utah 3, Reign 0.

If the Reign are still planning to narrow the gap between eighth and seventh place in the Western Conference, those plans are still on hold.

Saturday’s 3-0 loss before an announced crowd of 8,150 at the Maverik Center was the Reign’s fifth straight. Goaltender Andrew Engelage improved to 4-1 against the Reign, stopping all 31 shots he faced for his first shutout this season.

The Reign (13-26-1-2) will remain eight points behind the seventh-place Victoria if the current score holds and the Salmon Kings lose tonight to the Las Vegas Wranglers.

Goaltender Beau Erickson, playing his second game in as many nights, stopped 31 of 33 shots for the Reign.

He got little help in a first period that saw Utah (25-16-3-1) outshoot the Reign 10-2. For the second straight night, the Reign bounced back big in the second period, outshooting Utah 22-11 despite holding just two power plays. But the Reign couldn’t take advantage, and fell behind 1-0 on Tom May’s goal at 4:52.

Hugo Carpentier notched his eighth goal of the season at 8:15 of the third period and Simon Ferguson scored into an empty net with 16 seconds left.

The two teams play again Monday in West Valley City, Utah.

Another ECHL line brawl – this one’s bigger.

The ECHL wasted no time handing out discipline from last night’s benches-clearing brawl in Anchorage between the Condors and the Alaska Aces. (There wasn’t much time to wait – the two teams play again tonight).

First, the video:

Now, the fallout – some of which will affect the Condors’ lineup against the Reign next month:

• Bakersfield enforcer Erick Lizon was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended nine games – seven games for his role in the aforementioned altercation, another two games for “his actions in the first period.” (Lizon wasn’t penalized in the first period, and there’s no video evidence of any infraction, so maybe someone who saw the game can chime in.) Among the nine games Lizon will miss are games Feb. 4, 5 and 18 against the Reign.

• Condors defenseman Joe Rullier was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended three games, including the Feb. 4 game against the Reign.

• Seven other players and both coaches have all been fined and suspended at least one game. The benches should be particularly short tonight: Neither Marty Raymond nor Brent Thompson will be behind the benches. Bakersfield must play without Lizon, Rullier, Slava Trukhno, Joey Ryan and Guillaume Lefebvre. Alaska must play without Scott Burt and Chris Langkow.

• The hometown Aces received an undisclosed fine from the ECHL and, capping a busy week in Bakersfield, the Condors organization was fined by the league, too.

Here’s the game recap in the Anchorage Daily News, and here’s the momentous box score. Note the combined 249 penalty minutes.

Poss, Egener among those suspended by ECHL for brawl.

The consequences of last Saturday’s benches-clearing ECHL brawl came to fruition Friday.

Fifteen individuals – including both head coaches – and both the Florida Everblades and Reading Royals organizations received supplemental discipline from the league.

Former Reign assistant coach Greg Poss, now the Everblades’ head coach, was suspended for Friday night’s game against the Kalamazoo Wings. Former Reign defenseman Mike Egener, now the Everblades’ captain, was suspended three games – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Both were fined undisclosed amounts by the league.

I was able to find one video of the brawl on YouTube. The quality is poor and it’s five minutes long:

Woody Wommack, friend of this blog and Florida Everblades beat writer, has the reaction on NaplesNews.com:

“I have a different opinion than the league,” Poss said. “When our guy gets hit over the head with a stick off the bench; they started the whole thing, why do we get so many games?”

Poss added that the entire experience surrounding the brawl may lead to him handling things differently in the future.

“It’s going to lead to us protecting ourselves we’re not going to wait for the league to protect us because they’re not going to do it,” Poss said. “We’re going to have to take matters into our own hands. Next time, maybe the right thing to do is to clear the bench.”

Utah 3, Reign 2, OT.

Hugo Carpentier’s goal at 2:09 of overtime completed the Grizzlies’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit, giving the Reign a valuable point in the standings but wasting a golden opportunity for a win on the road.

For the first time since December, the Reign weren’t outshot. Beau Erickson stopped 36 of 39 for the Reign, and Andrew Engelage stopped 37 of 39 for the Grizzlies. The Reign benefited from a second period that saw Utah take 10 penalties, resulting in six power plays and a 20-10 shots advantage.

All Ontario had to show for that second-period opportunity was a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Dusty Collins at 5:32, and an even-strength marker by Shawn Collymore at 11:43. Clearly, Lane Caffaro’s absence was felt. His ability to get shots through to the net could have made a noticeable difference in a close, power-play heavy game like this.

Utah began its comeback just 27 seconds after Collymore’s goal, when a long shot by Marcus Carroll beat a screened Erickson. With 3:57 left in the third period, Matt Clarke tied the game at 2 with his wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.

It stayed tied until Carpentier’s goal, one second after a penalty to Reign defenseman Jason Fredricks expired. Though Fredricks could do little to prevent the goal as he exited the penalty box, the Reign officially finished 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

The standings point put a dent in the gap between Ontario and seventh-place Victoria in the Western Conference standings, bringing the Reign eight points back with one game in hand.

The Reign and Grizzlies play again tonight.

Caffaro suspended, heading to Germany.

Lane Caffaro became the third Reign player to leave for Europe this month on Friday, when the defenseman was suspended by the team and joined the Hannover Indians of the German Bundesliga.

According to the website haz.de, Caffaro has arrived in Hannover but the team hasn’t officially affirmed his transfer yet, as his contract status is still in limbo. Because the Reign suspended him, however, it seems unlikely that there is any scenario in which he comes back.

Caffaro played a valuable role on the Reign’s blue line this season as the primary point man on the power play. The 26-year-old had 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 36 games since arriving in a trade with the Idaho Steelheads. Tonight’s game against the Utah Grizzlies will be the Reign’s first without Caffaro since October.

The Reign will be getting defenseman Jordan Hill, and center Dusty Collins, for tonight’s game after each was cut by his AHL team this week. However, Hill isn’t the same kind of defenseman as Caffaro — more of a gritty two-way player than an offensive specialist — and it will be interesting to see what kind of changes Karl Taylor makes without Caffaro.

Collins returning to Ontario.

Dusty Collins’ latest stay in the American Hockey League was a brief one.

The center was released from his contract with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose on Thursday and he will return to the Reign, likely in time for a three-game series at Utah starting Friday.

Collins had a goal, 12 penalty minutes, and a plus-1 rating in three games with the Moose. He has seven goals and 15 points in 28 games with the Reign this season

ECHL All-Star Game: Pregame notes

Aaron Lewadniuk’s first all-star moment has come and gone without much fanfare.

Lewadniuk, the lone Reign All-Star here at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, participated only in the shootout competition, and missed on his only attempt. Lewadniuk attempted a forehand-to-backhand move against Idaho Steelheads goalie Tyler Beskorowany and saw the puck slide off the end of his stick, wide of the net.

The skills competition was a brief, 40-minute affair. Not a bad format if your attention span is short; not a good one if you prefer the skills competition to the game itself.

Reign president Justin Kemp said that today’s ECHL Board of Governors meeting was a relatively short one, too – 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Kemp said that the most encouraging news is the league is closer to adding to its current total of 19 teams than subtracting. The Chicago Express is set to begin play next year, which will bring the league to 20 teams.

Beyond that, the ECHL is eyeing a few markets in both the East and West, but Kemp couldn’t disclose where.

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

No practice updates today – it’s the rules. Updates.

The Reign, and the rest of the ECHL, were off the ice today. It’s written into the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association that teams don’t practice during the All-Star Break. With no practice comes no updates, but here are a couple tidbits to pass along:

• Aaron Lewadniuk told me after last night’s game that he is leaving for Bakersfield today. Karl Taylor told me about a month ago that, because Ontario is relatively close to Bakersfield, it was possible that the ECHL would turn to the Reign for any injury replacements simply because it’s easier to get players to the game on short notice. The game is two days away and Lewadniuk, to my knowledge, is still the only Reign player heading north.

• Dusty Collins didn’t play for the Manitoba Moose yesterday, the first time he’s been scratched since being recalled to the AHL a week ago. His name hasn’t popped up on the transactions wire yet, but the player whose roster spot he took – Sergei Shirokov – was just returned to Manitoba by the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. But … the Canucks also recalled a defenseman from Manitoba, Lee Sweatt. No clear signals on this front.

• I spoke to Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall today about the Reign and the Manchester Monarchs. No Earth-shattering news to relay, but Hextall did say that he considered assigning a top-six-type forward (he didn’t give a name) from Manchester to Ontario at one point earlier this season when that player was struggling. That player turned his season around, however, and stayed in Manchester.

3:30 p.m. update: The Monarchs released defenseman Jordan Hill, who had been on loan from the Reign since December. Manchester doesn’t play a game until Wednesday, while the Reign don’t play until Friday in Utah. For now, pencil Hill in for the road trip – but a lot can happen in four days. Hill had one assist, 19 penalty minutes, and a minus-1 rating in 14 games with the Reign. He had one assist and 15 penalty minutes in 10 games for Manchester.

4 p.m. update: Hill is indeed flying in to Ontario today.

Stockton 4, Reign 2.

The third period wasn’t the problem. The penalty-kill was.

Stockton scored on its first three power plays en route to a 4-2 win to cap a three-game weekend sweep of the Reign at CBBA.

Shawn Collymore scored both Reign goals, both on the power
play, both the result of persistence with pucks in the crease against
Garrett Zemlak. Zemlak, who started the season with the Reign, stopped
26 shots and even got into a fight late in the second period.

Mike Zacharias stopped 27 of 30 for the Reign. He was great at times, but let in a soft goal by Ryan Constant in the second period that proved to be the game-winner.

Another player who started the season in Ontario, Pierre-Andre Bureau, had an empty-net goal and two assists for the Thunder.

Shawn Germain missed the game to attend a firefighting class in Canada. Doug Krantz filled in on the blue line (and played fairly well). James McEwan also got back into the lineup and engaged in two highly entertaining fights.

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