Reign lose 6-3, plus more on Johnson, McEwan and Alex Morton.

The Reign lost in almost typical fashion. Take away the final three minutes of the first period, and they played one of their better games in recent memory – getting more scoring chances, more shots on goal, and more time in the offensive zone than Idaho. That doesn’t happen often.

Of course, you can’t take away those inexplicable three minutes of hockey in which Idaho scored three goals – twice on the power play and again at even strength.

“That’s kind of been the problem we’ve had all year, putting a 60-minute game together,” David Walker said. “Yeah, it’s one of our better games. We got blocked shots, put a lot of shots on net, did a lot of things we wanted to do at the start of the game. But when a team has a power play that good, you can’t give them opportunity after opportunity to do it.”

Walker went on to point out that playing well means little. Alaska is on its way to beating Victoria (the game is currently in the third period). Assuming the 4-2 score holds, the Reign would be left with 11 games in which to make up nine points on the seventh-place Salmon Kings to make the playoffs. So long as the Reign have at least five games to play, and Victoria keeps losing – a loss tonight would be its fourth straight – there’s a chance.

The Reign played without Chaz Johnson and James McEwan; tomorrow’s editions
of the Sun and Daily Bulletin will have plenty on the Reign’s reaction
to the ECHL suspensions. I didn’t have room for many details on the game, so here are a few:

• Eight different Reign players collected at least a point. C.J. Stretch, Alex Bourret and Aaron Lewadniuk scored goals and Michael Pelech, Kyle Kraemer, Justin Taylor, Jordan Hill and newcomer Alex Morton had assists.

• Morton, a 6-3 power forward out of Fredonia State, made his professional debut. He played limited minutes at left wing, rotating in with a couple different lines. He made a nice high-to-low pass, diagonally across the offensive zone, to set up Lewadniuk’s goal. I’ll have more on Morton in my next blog entry.

• Idaho played with only 15 players, one below the maximum allowance.

• Dennis Cook served as the emergency backup to Mike Zacharias (17 saves). Beau Erickson has a lower-body injury but has not been placed on injured reserve.

• Finally, here was Karl Taylor’s reaction to the suspensions:

On Ferguson: “On the racial slur, maybe that is severe. Maybe five games is very severe, but when it’s a racial slur, my feeling is let’s fault on the side of being really firm. Maybe that is — I don’t have a lot of experience with it — I just think firmer is better than lighter in that type of thing.”

On McEwan: “That’s a tough one. They see it one way; I see it a little different. Not because it’s my player. I felt he squared up with the player, he didn’t sneak up on him. He looked (Simon Ferguson) right in the eye and said, you’re either going to fight or I’m going to hit you. He decided not to fight, so he hit ’em. I disagreed with that one, but they’re the boss, so we’ll abide by the decision and we’ll move forward.”

On Johnson: “On the video, it (Johnson’s hit on Matt Sorteberg) doesn’t look very good. The guy loses an edge a little bit, he got hurt, he lost teeth I guess. It wasn’t like he ran (Sorteberg). He stopped skating, his arms were in, there was no dirtiness by Chaz. He hits the guy from behind a little bit, finishes on him. I have no problem with giving him a five-minute major on that penalty because there is an injury. … We don’t want anybody to get hurt. We don’t want to see people get hit from behind. It wasn’t Chaz’s intent, the way the guy tripped. That’s not such a terrible call.”