Voting open for ECHL “Silver Skater” team.

This is usually the time of year when the ECHL is making preparations for its annual All-Star Game. However, for the first time since 1993, there will be no game this season.

In its stead is something much cheaper and arguably more fun. Through February 5, fans can vote online for the “2012 Silver Skater Fantasy Team,” a concept that seems entirely unique based on its description on the ECHL website.

Fans are allowed one vote per e-mail address to choose one player on each team who will wear a “special Silver Skater jersey” during a select home game. There are no criteria for how to vote. You could, conceivably, vote for the worst player on each team — although this appears to be discouraged by listing four players under each team’s logo (they all seem to be having good seasons). Write-in votes are allowed, however. The top two vote-getters will wear the special jersey.

We don’t know what the jerseys will look like, but an educated guess is that the snazzy logo you see at right will be featured prominently. No word yet as to when the Reign have scheduled their “Silver Skater” home game.

The four Reign players listed are C.J. Stretch, Derek Couture, Vincent LoVerde and Chris Huxley. It’s tempting to list the merits of each player at this point, but since there really are no voting criteria, it’s hard to tell where to begin. (Who looks best in silver??)

Still, as alternate ideas go, this one has its merits. The concept of minor-league all-star games is inherently flawed, since the best players in the league are getting promoted to the AHL on a daily basis. Staging a game is a logistical headache — just ask anyone who was around when the ECHL All-Star Game was played at CBBA in 2010. This is less formal and less expensive and, thus, more appropriate to the concept. Even if it has no criteria.

Trade brings Lewadniuk back to Pacific Division; more notes.

Former Reign forward Aaron Lewadniuk probably planned on making three trips to Ontario before this season ended — two in February, one in March. Now he figure to make just one, on Monday.

The Idaho Steelheads traded Lewadniuk to the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday for forward Michael Gergen. The struggling Condors (8-24-3-1), already 13 points behind the Steelheads for the seventh and final playoff position in the ECHL’s Western Conference, visit the Reign for a rare 1 p.m. game Monday at CBBA. That is Bakersfield’s only road game against the Reign the rest of the way; the Condors also host the Reign Jan. 27 and 28.

Lewadniuk has seven goals and six assists in 31 games this season for the Steelheads. In his first game against his former team, Lewadniuk scored a goal last Friday in a 5-1 loss to the Reign — the only goal the Reign have allowed in their last four games.

Incidentally: Geoff Irwin, the player Lewadniuk was traded for, has eight goals and 10 assists in 30 games this season.

Here are some facts and figures that didn’t make the game story from the Reign’s latest blowout, a 6-0 shutout against Las Vegas last night:
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Change on D, other notes from practice.

Monday’s practice at Citizens Business Bank Arena was the last for Sean Murray in a Reign uniform, at least for now.

Murray was released Monday afternoon, probably not coincidentally the same day Mike Montgomery was released from his tryout contract with the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros. The timing of the move suggests that Montgomery could well be in the lineup Wednesday, when the Reign host the Las Vegas Wranglers.

In five games with the Reign, playing exclusively as a third-pair defenseman, Murray was scoreless with a minus-1 rating. Montgomery was a minus-5 with no points in 18 games for the Reign during two separate stints.

A couple more notes from practice:
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Berube in goal, plus more notes.

J-F Berube will get his first start since Dec. 26 tomorrow when the Reign host the Bakersfield Condors.

Berube’s last outing was a forgettable one – down to 13 skaters, he was the unlucky goalie as the Reign lost 5-0 to the Las Vegas Wranglers. Still short-handed, the Reign reached back the next four games and went 2-0-1, averaging 36 shots a game with goalie Chris Carrozzi in net.

That impressive feat will be the focus of tomorrow’s notebook in the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Berube has not faced the Condors since opening night, a 5-4 Reign loss.

A few more notes from practice:
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