Johnson hit with one-game suspension.

Chaz Johnson received a one-game suspension Friday for his hit on Alaska’s Mark Isherwood on Wednesday. Johnson, who received a game misconduct for violating the newly instituted rule 48.3, will miss tonight’s game against the Las Vegas Wranglers.

“I thought it was kind of a tough call,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said. “The league’s going to do what they have to do and we respect the decision. We want to protect our players. We don’t want anybody taking advantage of a person in a weak position. I thought it was a tough call based on the play. I’d rather have the league fault on the side of safety and protecting the players. It’s tough to argue the call in the end.

“I’m not sure how they come to the final conclusion – what’s a suspension and what’s not. It’s a new rule. They just try to determine is it a shot to the head? Is it a shoulder? The force, is the player injured?”

The ECHL declined to comment on the suspension, citing a longstanding policy.

With Isherwood standing in the slot, Johnson charged laterally from the left circle and made contact with the defenseman a moment after Isherwood released a shot. The hit, which appeared to be shoulder-first, spun Isherwood around and
immediately drew a game misconduct. The one-game suspension was at the ECHL’s discretion, however, Johnson will be suspended automatically if he’s hit with the penalty again.

It’s the sixth suspension in the league under rule 48, which was first adopted late last season in the NHL in response to a spate of concussions caused by blind-side hits to the head. The rule was subsequently instituted this season by both the ECHL and the AHL.

Johnson was also fined an undisclosed amount under Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline.

Power outage postcript.

A power outage at Citizens Business Bank Arena (that affected more than 900 customers total) caused some minor chaos for about an hour, before power was restored a little more than two hours before game time.

“We didn’t know what was going on before the game,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said. “We were kind of walking around in the dark. We assumed within an hour or so they were going to get it done.

“Mike Stuever is our ice guy, he works extremely hard on the ice. He had generators coming on to make sure the ice was going to be solid. It didn’t affect anything.”

From a distance, the only noticeable puddles on the surface were in both creases, where the goal is attached to the ice. But they were long gone by the time the teams took the ice for warm-ups.

Reign 3, Alaska 2.

Print out the scoresheet and frame it: The Reign won at home.

Dusty Collins’ short-handed goal at 5:46 of the third period served as the game-winner, new defenseman Jason Fredricks got the game-tying goal on a lucky bounce off the boards, and C.J. Stretch scored on the Reign’s first shot of the game.

That allowed a strong 34-save effort by Beau Erickson to hold up before an announced crowd of 6,433.

Alaska saw its streak of 11 games with a point, including 10 wins in those 11 games, come to an end.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin, including Karl Taylor’s thoughts on the rare illegal-hit-to-the-head penalty that got Chaz Johnson ejected from the game in the first period.

Jeff Corey: Found.

Jeff Corey popped up in Sweden today, not coincidentally the same day that the Reign suspended their leading scorer. Corey is joining ÖHC, a team based in Brunflo, Sweden that competes in Division 1 (which, of course, is the third-highest league of competition in Sweden).

Corey’s exodus comes as no surprise; suspending him was the final step that allows the Reign to retain his ECHL rights if Corey chooses to play North American hockey again this season.

According to the website eishockey.wettpoint.com (suitable for work), ÖHC is in second place in their division. The Swedish hockey leagues use a relegation system that would allow ÖHC to move up to the second-tier league HockeyAllsvenskan if it finishes atop of Division 1 at the end of the season.

Doyle is cut, and more notes from the morning skate.

Eric Doyle’s long-awaited reward for being activated from injured reserve was hardly a reward at all. The defenseman was released by the Reign, a disappointing conclusion to what had been a promising start to his tenure in Ontario.

“I feel awful for the kid,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said. “Good kid. Tough circumstance, but it’s just something we have to do.”

The 21-year-old defenseman had a goal and six points in 12 games to start his rookie year. Four of his five assists came on the power play, a role that hasn’t been easy for the Reign to fill since Doyle originally was diagnosed with a lower-body injury on Nov. 28.

“He hasn’t skated for seven weeks, or six weeks, so we released him from
his contract. We need to get bodies in here now, with our situation in
the standings. We don’t have time to mess around. We need to win now.

“He’s all healed and cleared, and now getting him back in shape and all those things – we need to get someone in here sooner.”

A few more notes from the morning skate:
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Jones named to AHL All-Star team.

Martin Jones’ ascent through the Kings’ system continued Tuesday with news that he was one of six goalies chosen to play in the AHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 in Hershey, Pa.

Jones, who started the season with the Reign and recorded his first pro win in his only ECHL appearance, leads all AHL goalies with a 1.75 goals-against average. The 21-year-old native of North Vancouver is second in the league with a .943 save percentage and sports an outstanding 14-3-0 record.

Jones and defenseman Slava Voynov were the only Manchester players chosen to play in the game.

A couple notes from practice.

The Reign skated at Center Ice Arena today (they were kicked out of CBBA for the filming of a commercial) and worked quite a bit on special teams.

Luke Beaverson skated in a red (non-contact) jersey. Karl Taylor wouldn’t rule out Beaverson returning Wednesday, depending on how his lower-body injury reacts to Monday’s skate. Still, expect a trade to be announced between now and then, with “future considerations” leaving town for an established D-man.

I talked plenty with Taylor about the penalty kill for the notebook that will appear in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. One note that won’t make the paper – a shootout drill at the end of practice left spirits remarkably high. You wouldn’t have known this is a team that’s lost six straight.

Utah 5, Reign 1.

Make it six straight losses, 15 in 17 home games, and and an even bigger deficit in the Western Conference basement for the Reign.

The season isn’t halfway over, but eighth-place Ontario (10-22-0-1, 21 points) is already 27 points behind first-place Utah (22-10-3-1, 48 points). It was said here before the Christmas holiday break that a strong comeback following the week off was needed to entertain thoughts of saving the season. The Reign came back recharged to win their next two, but have since lost six straight. Mathematically, their hole isn’t impossible to overcome to make the playoffs, but the fact that mathematics would enter the conversation when the season isn’t halfway over yet speaks volumes.

The signs of progress, relative to a respectable effort Friday, were exiguous. The Reign started strong, outshooting Utah 13-5 at one point in the first period, and maintained a hard checking game for 60 minutes even though there were no fights. (Credit the officiating crew for stepping in quickly on a couple occasions.) The Reign’s 29 shots on goal more than doubled yesterday’s total, and it’s clear the team isn’t hesitant to shoot anymore. That message got through loud and clear.

But there was a stark disparity in the special teams. The Reign converted 1 of 6 power plays; the Grizzlies converted 3 of 7. Two Reign PPs ended when they were whistled for offensive-zone penalties, which speaks to a lack of discipline.

Alex Petizian made his Reign debut and stopped 30 of 35. Shawn Collymore scored the Reign’s lone goal off a costly Utah turnover. Utah’s Simon Ferguson came back from a pair of injuries to his face – including one late in the second period that drew blood and forced him off the ice – to record a hat trick.

Plenty more in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. No updates on Jeff Corey, other than that he is still listed on the roster so it’s a safe bet he hasn’t officially signed in Europe.

Utah 5, Reign 3.

The Reign started off with admirable energy, slowed down a bit, rediscovered their early-game tempo in the third period but ultimately found themselves in a familiar place.

They were outshot (29-19), outscored on the power play (3 to 2), outscored short-handed (1 to 0, despite some halfway decent chances) and most importantly, outscored 5-3 on the final scoreboard. It was their fifth straight loss and 14th in 16 home games this season.

The scoresheet also revealed and obscured some positives. The Reign weren’t afraid to fight, from Chaz Johnson and James McEwan on down to Aaron Lewadniuk and little Alex Bourret. All landed enough punches – Johnson landed one cleanly on Matt Sorteberg with his sweater pulled over his head, no less – to earn either a win or a draw.

The power play did a better job generating scoring chances, and its 50 percent conversion rate is usually enough on most nights. The Reign’s 14 total shots – while matching a season low – didn’t take into account several shots that just missed the net. C.J. Stretch clanged one off the goal frame in his first game in a month.

For all their plusses, the Reign still couldn’t kill a penalty against Utah. That seemed to be the main problem, and I discussed it in depth with a couple of the guys – more in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Lastly, it looks inevitable that Jeff Corey is going back to Europe. I don’t know much other than that Corey has an offer and there’s quite a bit of money behind it; the Reign don’t want to lose two of their key players (Corey and Kellen Briggs) in a week and are trying to retain Corey; and because there’s no contract in place at the moment, Corey is still in the area.

The Reign can try to get compensation from an overseas club if they lose Corey (I’m told that they did receive some compensation for Briggs), but they’d rather keep a player who is their leading scorer and among their best penalty killers. There’s also the inevitable perception that players are “jumping ship” with the team entrenched in last place, but I’ve been told that’s not the case. It’s more about the money, and ECHL players don’t make much.

Corey played for Freiburg of the second-tier German Bundesliga last season and spent all of 2007-08 in Denmark. He went down with a lower-body injury Dec. 28 in Victoria and hasn’t played in the last five games, but still leads the team in goals (11), points (24), power-play assists (9), game-winning goals (2) and shots (90).