Darcy Kuemper was victorious in his ECHL debut and Geoff Irwin’s forehand past Olivier Roy was the game-winner in the Reign’s first win of the season Saturday night.
C.J. Stretch and Steven Tarasuk also scored shootout goals for the Reign (1-1), who get a respite until traveling to Vegas next Friday. Kuemper stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Bill Bagron deposited a beautiful backhand feed from Dylan Yeo at 16:12 of the second period for the game’s first goal. Francois Brisebois got the Reign’s only power-play goal in six tries with 3.5 seconds left in the middle period. Standing in front of the crease, he took a Derek Couture pass from behind the net – then took a shot in the back after poking the puck between the pads of Olivier Roy (33 saves).
Bagron and Brisebois both have two goals on the season.
Head coach Jason Christie liked the overall effort better than Friday’s.
“They stuck their nose in there and made some good plays,” he said. “That’s a key at this level – you have to win the battles. We’re losing battles down low, and it’s a rush against. We definitely have to make sure we get better on that.”
More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. Here are a few more observations:
• Something unique about the current lineup: Five players (Yeo, Watt, Gawryletz, Calla, Couture) have extensive AHL experience. Three (MacPhee, Bagron, McPhee) gained all their experience at lower professional levels. Seven (Brisebois, Neigum, Cloud, Aiken, Montgomery, Berube, Kuemper) are rookies. Only four (Morrison, Stretch, Irwin, Tarasuk) have spent the overwhelming majority of their pro careers in the ECHL. I know this is a transitional league, but I can’t remember seeing a roster with that kind of makeup here.
• Geoff Irwin was the captain at Minnesota State-Mankato his senior year, but was surprised to be wearing an “A” on his jersey this weekend. “It was kind of unexpected,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys who are pretty vocal. Definitely a huge honor. Coach says he likes my work ethic and that’s what I try to bring to the table – set an example of working hard, trying to cause turnovers on the ice. he gave me the privilege to wear the “A’ on my jersey, and I’ll try to set that example and lead with the work ethic I bring every night. … It’s always a privilege to wear [a letter] at any level.”
• Christie on Kuemper: “I thought he played well. Definitely gave us a good chance to win and came up with some big saves in the first period.”
• New broadcaster Dan Hubbard earned his paycheck tonight with the Jeff MacPhee-Iain McPhee defense pairing.
• The Reign still have four goalies (Dustin Carlson was de-activated, but not released). That should change, as both the Wild and Kings want Kuemper and Berube, respectively, to play as much as possible.