Considering the Reign have the ECHL’s worst record, have been eliminated from the playoffs, and don’t have any recent college or CHL graduates in on tryout contracts, maintaining the current roster and system might seem like the most radical course of action for the final three games of the season.
Yet that’s exactly what Karl Taylor is planning to do.
“You think about it, like ‘gee, I always wanted to try this, or experiment,’ but no. We’re not trying to do anything,” Taylor said after a brisk practice Tuesday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Bakersfield. “We played very well last weekend, executed well, showed a lot of character. We need to do that at home this weekend and reward our fans.”
The Reign wound up as a decent road team this season — 34 points (15-17-2-2) in 36 games — after taking two of three in Idaho last week. If the Reign won at the same rate at home as they did on the road, they would finish with 68 points this season. Considering that Victoria has 66 points with three games left on the schedule, that might be enough to make the playoffs. Certainly it would have given the Reign a shot.
Unfortunately, they lost 12 of 13 at home to start the season, which was ultimately the team’s downfall.
“I’ve seen us lose more at home than we would like to show them (the fans),” Taylor said.
Veteran defensemen Shawn Germain and David Walker had some strong thoughts on that topic. Both have talked about calling it a career after this season. Their approach to what could be the final week of their pro careers will be the focus of tomorrow’s story in the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
(Spoiler alert: Neither player has committed to retiring. Germain called his own bluff this year; Walker said he’s going to make up his mind for good after undergoing a pair of surgeries in the offseason.)
A few more notes:
Taylor said that bringing in amateur tryout players isn’t a straightforward process at this time of year. “We brought in Alex Morton, made some trades to add some guys late. We’re still looking — if there’s a free agent we want to see, we’ll bring him in for the weekend. But it’s all a cost analysis now – how much are you willing to spend on flights, travel, all those things. That’s all part of the equation.” Recall that last season, the only player who finished the season in Ontario on an amateur tryout was Irvine resident C.J. Stretch.
Taylor noted that the door isn’t closed on Morton, a senior at Fredonia State, for next season: “I thought he did OK. He wanted to return and finish his academic repsonsibilities.”
Chad Starling practiced in a red (non-contact) jersey. He’s no closer to returning.
Jase Weslosky is still questionable with a lower-body injury.
If you’re coming to the game tomorrow, bring your “gently worn” shoes.
The ECHL will announce its all-rookie team tomorrow.