Reign sign Calla, Neigum; Lenes to Trenton.

Two late additions to the training camp roster:

Brady Calla, 23, is entering his fourth professional season. A former third-round draft pick by the Florida Panthers, he posted seven goals and 23 points in 35 ECHL games last season with the Cincinnati Cyclones.

The 6-foot-1 right wing also has 64 games of experience at the AHL level, all with the Rochester Americans, logging five goals and 10 points.

Shayne Neigum is listed as 5-11 and 185 pounds, but that didn’t stop him from engaging in 47 fights over the last four seasons in the Western Hockey League, according to the website hockeyfights.com.

The 21-year-old left wing also had 11 goals in 2010-11, his final junior season, split between the Regina Pats and the Kamloops Blazers. Neigum also played eight regular-season games for the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the end of last season.

A total of 18 skaters and four goalies were on the ice Friday morning. That doesn’t include defenseman Chad Starling, who said he might be held up at least a week due to an immigration issue. Adrian van de Mosselaer is battling illness and will be held off the ice until he’s well. That left the Reign with just four defensemen.

An intrasquad scrimmage is scheduled for 4 p.m.

One more note: Forward Peter Lenes, a fan favorite when he played here two years ago, was added to the Trenton Devils’ training camp roster today.

Reign sign McPhee, announce camp roster.

Iain McPhee became the latest player to sign with the Reign this summer. The defenseman, who turns 26 Saturday, has split his two professional seasons between the Central Hockey League and the International Hockey League.

Despite his lack of ECHL experience, McPhee could get a long look. Defenseman Jordan Hill was included on the Manchester Monarchs’ camp roster, released Thursday, and Adrian van de Mosselaer was also excluded from the Reign’s camp roster and could be in the American Hockey League. (AHL camps are already open for business.) Only five defensemen, including McPhee, are expected to be on the ice tomorrow.

McPhee played four years in the Ontario Hockey League for the Windsor Spitfires, where he was teammates with future NHLers Bryan Bickell, Steve Downie, Cam Janssen, Cal O’Reilly and Kyle Wellwood. He moved on to the University of Prince Edward Island, posting five goals and 19 points in three years. In his first pro season, 2009-10, McPhee split his time between three IHL teams, notching a goal and four points in 45 games. Last season he had 12 points, all assists, and 79 penalty minutes in 48 games for the CHL’s Allen Americans.

One other name was listed on the Reign’s training camp roster, and it’s a familiar one. Mike Thomson of La Habra Heights earned a pro tryout contract — he didn’t have to try out in Riverside, like he did in 2008 and 2010 — and brings four games of ECHL experience this time around. The forward collected two assists and a plus-1 rating during his brief cameo with the Wheeling Nailers last season.

Making the opening-day roster is probably a more realistic goal now for Thomson and all the forwards who are here on tryout contracts — Kyle Reed, Dean Yakura, August Aiken and Andrew Monesi. A total of only seven forwards were signed in the off-season by Karl Taylor and Jason Christie, and that’s not enough to fill three lines.

Of course, the Kings are expected to kick down some help this season, and that could include a forward (or two). Odds are, that forward is going to be in Manchester’s camp until the Kings make their final training-camp cuts, which are expected to come in the next week. The same goes for any NHL-contracted defensemen and goalies who will find their way to Ontario this year.

That said, here are the 21 players expected to be on the ice tomorrow when camp opens at 10:30 a.m. sharp:
Continue reading

Finishing touches; players officially report tomorrow.

The Reign players officially report to training camp tomorrow for their physicals. On Friday, on-ice activities begin behind the closed doors of CBBA. Team President Justin Kemp told me that the main reason camp won’t be at Center Ice Arena (where it’s open to the public) is that it’s cheaper to practice on your own rink. Of course your home rink has to be available, too, and the CBBA surface isn’t needed for anything other than Reign hockey in the coming mornings.

So is the ice ready? Check it out (photo courtesy of Lee Calkins):

55501-1109_Reign Ice painting_015-thumb-550x365-55500.jpg

Reign announce training camp invitations.

Forwards Kyle Reed and Dean Yakura, and goalie Dustin Carlson, have been invited to participate in training camp with the Reign on pro tryout contracts.

All three had brief stints last season with the Idaho Steelheads.

Reed and Carlson both completed four-year careers at Ohio State last season, then made their pro debuts with the Steelheads at the end of the season. Reed, a left wing, had one assist and a minus-3 rating in four games. Carlson went 0-3-1 with a 3.25 goals-against average and an .872 save percentage in five games. Neither appeared in a playoff game for Idaho.

Yakura, 26, split last season between the Pensacola Ice Wings of the Southern Professional Hockey League (20 games, five goals, nine points) and the Steelheads (five games, one goal). Prior to turning pro, Yakura spent four years with the illustrious American International College program in Bridgeport, CT.

Three other players were invited from the team’s open free agent tryout last Friday and Saturday: forward Andrew Monesi of Simi Valley, forward August Aiken of Whittier and goalie Darren Yount of Alta Loma.

Reign sign Cloud, Bagron.

Jason Christie’s first two player signings as head coach of the Reign were announced Monday, and he didn’t have to reach too far into his past to find them.

Forwards Chris Cloud and Bill Bagron both played for Christie last season with the Bloomington PrairieThunder. Neither brings a wealth of experience in the ECHL to Ontario, though Cloud did appear for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in 2009. Judging by their stats, Cloud and Bagron might not be slated for scoring-line roles, but that’s no surprise. Christie said he like the team’s skill up front between Jordan Morrison, Kyle Kraemer, C.J. Stretch, Derek Couture and Geoff Irwin.

Cloud is a grappler. Here’s a clip of him fighting (and winning) during his brief time in the AHL: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/86289. The 22-year-old racked up 103 penalty minutes in 53 games after arriving in Bloomington last season via a midseason trade with the Tulsa Oilers. Cloud has some scoring potential; he once potted 15 goals during his overage season in the WHL, with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2008-09.

One more factoid on Cloud: He is from the alliteratively named Waywayseecappo, Manitoba and his Facebook fan club page lists him as a member of the Waywayseecappo First Naton, Manitoba.

Bagron, 29, tallied 53 goals and 134 points in 212 games over the last three seasons. He followed the PrairieThunder from the IHL to the CHL in 2010, scoring 16 goals and 48 points in 66 games last season. The Alaska native was a college teammate of former Reign defenseman Dan Knapp and Kings forward Scott Parse at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Continue reading

Training camp will be closed to the public.

In case there hasn’t been enough change around the Ontario Reign, here’s one more: Training camp will be closed to the public this year.

Players are due to report Wednesday for physicals and on-ice activities are scheduled to begin Friday at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The first three camps were conducted (at least in part) at Center Ice Arena on Plum Street in the old “downtown” Ontario.

If you’ve ever skated at Center Ice Arena, you’ll know the quality of ice is not as high as that of CBBA. Plus, players probably won’t mind not having to pack their equipment into their cars, and drive four miles each way just to do on-ice conditioning and drills.

While I wait for the official explanation for the move, I’m curious to know from fans: Would you rather get your first look at the team running drills at Center Ice Arena? Or would you rather know they’re tucked away in their own rink on the better ice surface?

San Francisco Bulls, Part 2.

The ECHL waited until today to make its formal announcement about the San Francisco Bulls joining the league in 2012-13.

It appears one small correction is in order: Pat Curcio, former assistant coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, leads the ownership group, not Shmuel Farhi. Farhi and media personality Jim Chapman are “also part of the group,” per the team’s official release.

Curcio will also be the team’s head coach and general manager.

San Francisco Bulls almost up and running. Update.

The ECHL Board of Governors approved the addition of an expansion team, the San Francisco Bulls, to begin play in 2012-13. David Pollak, the Sharks beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote on Twitter that the Bulls will play in the Cow Palace, the Sharks’ home arena in 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Few other details are available at this moment, including who will own the team and how the Bulls will fit in to an eight-team Western Conference. Reign President Justin Kemp is at the Board meeting in Atlanta and wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Kemp has repeatedly said in the past that the Western Conference was hoping to expand (the Eastern Conference has 12 teams by contrast), but never mentioned San Francisco as a potential market. So it’s likely that the ownership group was a recent entry into the ECHL foray.

Update: Kemp gave me some more details about the Bulls, most of which will appear in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. He said that he wasn’t aware of the ownership group’s emergence until the Board of Governors agenda crossed his desk “about a week ago.” All but one of the 20 Governors approved the Bulls’ membership.

Here’s what else we know about the team:

Continue reading

C.J. Stretch gets training camp invite from Kings.

Reign center C.J. Stretch will join the Kings’ main training camp on a pro tryout contract. The camp begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.

Stretch had nine goals and 21 points in 46 games with the Reign last season, his first full pro season after five years in the Western Hockey League. The 22-year-old center is an alumnus of the California Wave program. He was invited to the Sharks’ rookie camp in 2009, but hadn’t gotten a look from any NHL teams since.

Reign defenseman Jordan Hill was expected to be at the Kings’ camp too, but will be home in Canada recuperating from off-season hip surgery during the month of September.

Geoff Irwin, acquired for Aaron Lewadniuk, signs.

As expected, Geoff Irwin has signed with the Reign. The 26-year-old forward was acquired in an August trade that sent Aaron Lewadniuk to the Idaho Steelheads.

Karl Taylor, who engineered the trade, described it as a stroke of good fortune for the Reign.

“Irwin is an outstanding individual who we feel adds a lot to our team,” Taylor said at the time. “We just felt a change in scenery for both guys was a good situation. That’s the way it kind of came together.

Irwin, Taylor said, is “a quick kid, got a lot of compete in his game – very consistent, at least from what I can tell. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. He’s a guy who Idaho didn’t necessarily want to trade, but other factors came into play and we were able to get him.”

New head coach Jason Christie enters the job with 13 players known to be under contract:

Forwards (5): Derek Couture, Jordan Morrison, Kyle Kraemer, C.J. Stretch, Geoff Irwin.

Defensemen (6): Chad Starling, Pat Bowen, Jason Fredricks, Adrian Van de Mosselaer, Dylan Yeo, Jordan Hill.

Goalies (2): Jase Weslosky, Beau Erickson.