Final 2011-12 schedule announced.

Fire up your printers, organize your bookmarks and mark your calendars, the 2011-12 schedule is here. Most likely the final detail that needed to be confirmed was the addition of the Colorado Eagles
from the Central Hockey League earlier today.

We’ll break down the quirks after the jump. First, the schedule (with home games in bold):

Friday, October 14 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 15 vs. Stockton Thunder- 6:00 p.m.
Friday, October 21 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Friday, October 28 vs. Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 29 vs. Colorado Eagles – 6:00 p.m.

Friday, November 4 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, November 5 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, November 8 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, November 11 @ Alaska Aces – 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, November 12 @ Alaska Aces – 7:15 p.m.
Sunday, November 13 @ Alaska Aces – 5:05 p.m.
Wednesday, November 16 vs. Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, November 18 vs. Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 19 vs. Stockton Thunder – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 26 @ Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 27 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 30 vs. Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, December 2 @ Stockton Thunder – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 vs. Stockton Thunder – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 8 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Friday, December 9 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, December 10 vs. Las Vegas Wranglers – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, December 14 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, December 16 @ Alaska Aces – 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, December 17 @ Alaska Aces – 7:15 p.m.
Sunday, December 18 @ Alaska Aces – 5:05 p.m.
Monday, December 26 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, December 28 @ Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, December 30 @ Stockton Thunder – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 31 @ Stockton Thunder – 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 3 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 6 @ Idaho Steelheads – 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, January 7 @ Idaho Steelheads – 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, January 11 vs. Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 13 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, January 14 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:05 p.m.
Monday, January 16 vs. Bakersfield Condors – 1:00 p.m.
Friday, January 20 vs. Colorado Eagles – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 21 vs. Colorado Eagles – 6:00 p.m.
Friday, January 27 @ Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 28 @ Bakersfield Condors – 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 31 vs. Alaska Aces – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 3 @ Utah Grizzlies – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, February 4 @ Utah Grizzlies – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, February 8 vs. Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 10 vs. Utah Grizzlies – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 11 vs. Utah Grizzlies – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12 @ Las Vegas Wranglers – 2:05 p.m.
Wednesday, February 15 @ Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 17 vs. Colorado Eagles – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 18 vs. Idaho Steelheads – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 19 vs. Idaho Steelheads – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 22 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Friday, February 24 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, February 25 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, February 29 vs. Utah Grizzlies – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 2 vs. Utah Grizzlies – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 3 vs. Utah Grizzlies – 6:00 p.m.
Monday, March 5 @ Utah Grizzlies – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, March 7 @ Utah Grizzlies – 7:05 p.m.
Friday, March 9 vs. Las Vegas Wranglers – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 10 vs. Las Vegas Wranglers – 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 13 vs. Idaho Steelheads – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 16 @ Idaho Steelheads – 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, March 17 @ Idaho Steelheads – 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, March 21 vs. Stockton Thunder – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 23 vs. Alaska Aces – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 24 vs. Alaska Aces – 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 27 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, March 28 @ Colorado Eagles – 7:05 p.m.
Friday, March 30 vs. Alaska Aces – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 31 vs. Alaska Aces – 6:00 p.m.

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Colorado joining ECHL next season.

The ECHL announced Tuesday that its Board of Governors has approved the expansion membership application of the Colorado Eagles, bringing the league to 20 teams for next season.

Colorado plays its home games at the Budweiser Events Center, a 5,289-seat building located in Loveland, Colorado that opened in 2003. Colorado has been a member of the Central Hockey League since the 2003-04 season, and has sold out every regular season and playoff game in team history. According to the ECHL’s official release, the team’s 311 consecutive sellouts is an all-time record for minor league professional hockey.

“We are pleased to welcome the Colorado Eagles to the ECHL,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said in a statement. “The Eagles strong fan support, community involvement and history of on-ice success make them an excellent addition to our Western Conference. Team ownership and management have built an exceptional brand and business organization over the past decade. We are proud to have them as the newest Member of the ECHL.”

The news should come as welcome news to the Reign, who were facing competition in a seven-team Western Conference after the Victoria Salmon Kings officially folded in May.

News of Colorado’s potential addition has been circulating the rumor mill for more than a month. The ECHL’s release did not indicate which division the Eagles will play in, but it would make sense for them to replace Victoria in a four-team Mountain Division with Alaska, Idaho and Utah.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Aaron Lewadniuk?

The rundown on forward Aaron Lewadniuk:

2010-11 stats [career]: 17 goals, 31 points, minus-15 rating, 62 penalty minutes in 69 games.

Quote: “I have no reasons why I wouldn’t want to come back. … I can’t complain about anything, especially my individual play, my stats and just the leadership in my first year pro, I couldn’t ask for much more.”

Pros: Lewadniuk was the team’s go-to scorer in stretches as a rookie, showcasing his versatile potential as a playmaker, goal-scorer and fighter. He was the team’s lone all-star in January and a willing convert from center to left wing.

Cons: Lewadniuk would disappear from the scoresheet for stretches and was often only as good as the players around him. Whether that was just part of the learning process or an indictment on his potential as a pro remains to be seen.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Doug Krantz?

The rundown on defenseman Doug Krantz:

2010-11 stats [career]: 1 goal, 4 points, minus-18 rating, 39 penalty minutes in 55 games.

Quote: “It was a tough year for me. I was dealing with off-season surgery … losing that training time, not being as explosive, as physically strong as I’d like to be.”

Pros: Krantz is a rare specimen: A fluid skater and a willing fighter with size (6-foot-3). He has four pro seasons of experience but wouldn’t count toward the team’s four-veteran limit. Krantz showed he could play forward in a pinch and didn’t complain in spite of limited minutes.

Cons: Krantz was often a healthy scratch and seemed to have a short rope in Ontario. The 28-year-old is skinny as a rail (195 pounds), so you wonder how effective his size really is. Bringing him back would represent a leap of faith in a guy who didn’t play much.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Kyle Kraemer?

The rundown on forward Kyle Kraemer:

2010-11 stats [career]: 16 goals, 37 points, minus-8 rating, 37 penalty minutes in 54 games.

Quote: “I’d like to come back here. I really enjoyed it here. I enjoyed coach, enjoyed the staff, the fans are great. … I have no issues with this place.”

Pros: Among the Reign’s fastest (and hardest-working) forwards, Kraemer was a decent offensive threat as a rookie. He was on pace to lead the team in goals scored had he not missed 18 games with a knee injury, his six power-play goals were second on the team, and his 37 points ranked 19th among ECHL rookies.

Cons: Kraemer’s play away from the puck still has room for improvement, and he left many checks unfinished. Coming from an NCAA program (Northeastern), Kraemer still must prove he can withstand the rigors of a 72-game season.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Chaz Johnson?

The rundown on right wing Chaz Johnson:

2010-11 stats [career]: 22 goals, 36 points, 127 penalty minutes, minus-10 rating in 61 games.

Quote: “I definitely never rule Ontario out, going back there. I just don’t know. I have to see what’s been the best for me when it comes to that opportunity.”

Pros: Johnson was a threat to score, hit and fight every night — especially in the final 20 games of the season, when he scored 11 of his team-leading 22 goals. A scout once remarked that Johnson could play in the NHL if he ever learned how to finish; this may have been the year he figured it out.

Cons: At age 27, Johnson admits that the ability to move up to the AHL and money are his top priorities. How long would he be content in Ontario if the AHL call doesn’t come?

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Craig Gaudet?

The rundown on defenseman Craig Gaudet:

2010-11 stats [career]: 1 goal, 5 points, even-0 rating, 20 penalty minutes in 28 games.

Quote: “I was injured a lot – not too serious injuries, but enough to keep me in and out a lot. I could never get a string of games going to play well enough, the way I wanted to play.”

Pros: Gaudet has a strong shot and skates well, and looked comfortable in power-play situations in his nine-game audition with the Reign at the end of the season. The 26-year-old is eager to improve on an injury-marred rookie season and is probably hungry to move up a level.

Cons: Nine games might not have been enough to get a true gauge of Gaudet’s all-around ability, but at 5-10, 185 pounds, he’ll have trouble defending against some of the bigger ECHL forwards. He still needs to prove he can play the role of a point-producing defenseman over a full pro season.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Jason Fredricks?

The rundown on defenseman Jason Fredricks:

2010-11 stats [career]: 1 goal, 5 points, minus-6 rating, 28 penalty minutes in 39 games.

Quote: “Who knows what will happen on the Ontario Reign end, or on my end, but the way I see it right now I’d like to be back here.”

Pros: Fredricks is young (24), big (listed at 6- 2, 200 pounds) and fast. He was defensively responsible enough to play a on a shutdown pair with Shawn Germain at the end of the season, and probably has some untapped offensive potential if he can gain more confidence handling the puck.

Cons: Fredricks still wasn’t racking up the points (no goals, 2 assists in his final 22 games) despite increased ice time late in the season, and the Reign might need to look for a more proven offensive-minded defenseman, especially if David Walker retires.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Jon Francisco?

The rundown on center Jon Francisco:

2010-11 stats (career): 4 goals, 5 points, 2 penalty minutes, -1 rating in 12 games.

Quote: “If I can’t be an effective player, I don’t want to be there.”

Pros: Francisco, who has been with the Reign from Day 1, was still an effective all-around player before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November. The captain in 2008-09 and ’09-10, Francisco defines the best qualities of a leader, infecting others with his positive attitude and dedication.

Cons: There’s no guarantee Francisco wants to come back, and there’s no telling what kind of player he’ll be at age 30 coming off a major injury. 2011-12 would basically be a bonus season for a player who expected to be retired by now.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Beau Erickson?

The rundown on goalie Beau Erickson:

2010-11 stats [career]: 11-12-3 record, 3.39 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in 29 games.

Quote: “Hopefully (next year I’ll play) in the American League if things work out. If not, I’d love to be back in Ontario if the situation presented itself.”

Pros: Erickson’s attitude in the midst of a bleak season was commendable. After Kellen Briggs bolted for Europe, and after not playing for two months himself, Erickson was always game despite getting little help on defense many nights. He showed enough talent that, on a better team, he probably would have won more often than he lost.

Cons: Erickson’s career numbers are nothing spectacular. In two full ECHL seasons, he has never been with one team — either as a starter or a backup — from start to finish. Jase Weslosky outplayed him toward the end of the season, when the Reign were a much better team.