About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.

First Reign-Eagles clip from Friday hits YouTube.

Friday’s 9-8 shootout win over the Colorado Eagles was a momentous one for the Reign.

It clinched the team’s first playoff berth since the inaugural 2008-09 season with a full 18 games left in the regular season. It pulled the team within two points of first place. It set a season-high in goals scored and allowed several players to pad their stats and streaks:

• Kyle Kraemer (two goals, assist) has assists in six straight games and points in 13 straight – both the second-longest active streaks in the ECHL.

• Everett Sheen (goal, two assists) has goals in four straight games, which matches the longest active streak in the ECHL.

• Tristan King (three assists), Derek Couture (three assists), Alan Mazur (three assists) and Chris Huxley (goal, two assists) all had three-point games.

But let’s also not forget this light moment, the one that earned Eagles coach Chris Stewart a game misconduct in the second period:

It’s the kind of only-in-minor-league-hockey clip that tends to gain traction on the internets. It might even get the touch of gold that is a SportsCenter plug.

The Reign make a trade, and who’s in the lineup tomorrow?

The Reign traded the rights to defenseman Mike Montgomery to the Reading Royals for left wing Everett Sheen on Tuesday. While coach Jason Christie hasn’t done too much wheeling and dealing the past couple months, perhaps the only question is why this move (or something similar) didn’t happen sooner.

Montgomery, who has been on loan to the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros all month, had one goal and one assist in 27 games with the Reign. The 25-year-old rookie has played 10 games in the AHL during three separate stints (two with Houston, one with St. John’s). Six of those games have come during the last two weeks, and it could be that Montgomery is becoming an established piece of the Aeros’ blue-line corps.

That’s a little ironic, since Montgomery was skating at forward for the Reign just prior to his February promotion.

Ever since Christie lured defensemen Alan Mazur from England, and Mike Gabinet from temporary retirement, both players have been productive. That’s left little room for Montgomery, Jason Fredricks and lately Pat Bowen to play their natural position. Mazur and Gabinet also have more experience than Montgomery, a quality Christie was looking to add to a young roster. As responsible as Montgomery is — both with and without the puck — he simply wasn’t needed anymore. The Royals can deal with the question of if and when Montgomery will come back from Houston.

What do we know about Sheen?

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Reign hit hard with suspensions.

The Reign will be forced to play without their leading goal scorer, their top fighter and their highest-scoring defenseman for the near future.

The ECHL suspended right wing Derek Couture for five games, left wing Chris Cloud for four games and defenseman Steven Tarasuk for three games as “a result of actions prior to” Saturday night’s 6-4 victory over the Utah Grizzlies. Cloud was also suspended a fifth game “under
Rule #23.7, which states any player who incurs a total of three (3) game
misconduct penalties for fighting-related infractions shall be
automatically suspended for his team’s next game.

All three players were fined, as were head coach Jason Christie and the Reign organization.

The league also suspended Grizzlies defenseman Cody Lampl (four games), center Jordan Foreman (four games), and defenseman Matt Sorteberg (three games). They were fined along with two other Utah players (center Mitch Wahl and defenseman Nick Tuzzolino), coach Kevin Colley and the Grizzlies organization.

After Saturday’s game, Colley said that Reign players were “shooting slapshots down at our guys in warmup.” Reign coach Jason Christie said Monday that pucks were flying in both directions during the warmup period, and he was not disappointed with his team’s response.

Messages left for Christie and Reign president Justin Kemp were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

Couture, Cloud, Tarasuk, Lampl, Foreman and Sorteberg all received fighting majors and game misconducts. The game-misconduct penalties will be counted toward each player’s suspension, meaning Couture and Cloud are eligible to return next Wednesday against Stockton, and Tarasuk is eligible to return this Saturday against Utah.
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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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Junior Reign squad headed to Canada.

Passing this along from the team’s weekly newsletter:

The Bantam B Junior Reign Hockey team won the Silver Stick Regional Championship in San Jose on Sunday, November 27, 2011. As champions, the Jr. Reign will now represent the Pacific District in the Silver Stick International Finals in Pelham, Ontario, Canada from January 5-9, 2012.

In order for the team to be able to travel to Canada to compete in the finals, they need your help with donations for transportation, lodging costs, etc. for the team.

Any donations, no matter the size, would help this team represent Southern California. IVHA – Jr. Reign Hockey Club is a Non-Profit 501-(c)3 organization. Your donation would be tax deductible.

Please contact Jeff Wilhelm, President, at (951) 377-3823 or jwilhelm@jrreign.com.