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.
In case you missed the invitation yesterday on Facebook or Twitter, this week’s Ontario Reign newsletter included at least one photo that deserves a funny caption. I thought the second photo was rife for satire, but some people have already submitted caption suggestions for the first.
**As a bonus, I’ve been told that the winning caption will be shown on the big video board at the next Reign game. Can’t make a promise on that one, but there’s your added incentive.
The Reign will be without two-thirds of their top line when they return to the ice next Monday in Las Vegas.
Left wing Geoff Irwin was suspended four games, and Derek Couture one, by the ECHL on Tuesday for their actions Sunday in Alaska.
Aces defenseman Brandon Gentile slew-footed Couture at 14:30 of the second period of Sunday’s game, moments after Francois Brisebois scored the Reign’s first goal of the game. That set off a massive brawl with Couture and Gentile in the middle. You can see how it started at the 2:27 mark of this video:
At the 3:08 mark, Couture appears to be the second man in on a fight between Gentile and Reign defenseman Chris Huxley. Couture was given a double game misconduct for his role in the altercation.
Irwin was suspended for an illegal hit to the head; his only penalty in the game was a second-period elbowing minor. “He went through the body clean and he obviously came up high on his follow-through on the hit,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “That’s what they’re trying to get rid of. It’s understandable. He came up a little too high. You don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy. ”
Kyle Kraemer, who fetched a 10-minute misconduct penalty after taking a hard hit from Alaska’s Kane Lafranchise at the end of the second period, was fined an undisclosed amount along with Irwin and Couture.
The Reign kicked off their three-game weekend series in Alaska on Friday down two men and two goals.
The Aces walked away with a 3-1 win despite being outshot 34-24. Kevin Estrada scored the Reign’s only goal at 7:41 of the third period. It was his first of the season, his first since the 2009-10 season in Germany, and his first in the ECHL since April 10, 2008 as a member of the Victoria Salmon Kings.
Per the Anchorage Daily News account, Estrada “walked out of the right corner, made it to the net and jammed a shot on [Alaska goalie Gerald]
Coleman, who had the paddle of his stick down along the ice. Estrada
jammed his own rebound through Coleman to cut Alaska’s lead to 2-1.”
That was as close as the Reign would get. Three minutes and one second later, Wes Goldie scored his 12th goal of the season to make it 3-1. Steve Ward and Gary Nunn scored power-play goals in the second period for the Aces (19-4-1-1), who finished 2-for-5 on the power play.
The Reign (12-10-1-1) are stuck in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, third in the Pacific Division, and failed to gain ground on the second-place Stockton Thunder, who lost 6-2 to Idaho earlier in the night.
Chris Carrozzi stopped 21 of 24 shots. J-F Berube made his first appearance (albeit on the bench) since sustaining a neck injury in practice last month.
Forward Matt Tassone (back) did not accompany the Reign on the trip. Shayne Neigum skated at forward, giving the Reign nine forwards and five defensemen. The 14 skaters are two below the ECHL maximum.
The Reign lost their second forward in three days to the Manchester Monarchs on Wednesday.
Left wing Chris Cloud, who leads the team in major penalties, signed a pro tryout contract with the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, joining linemate J.D. Watt at the next level. Cloud has five goals, 10 points and 84 penalty minutes this season, appearing in all 22 games. He is tied for second in the ECHL in major penalties with 10.
The Monarchs recently lost center Cam Paddock to a four-game suspension, so Cloud and Watt could conceivably return to the Reign soon.
Still, it’s quite an opportunity for Cloud, who spent the last two seasons in the Central Hockey League and has never played in the AHL before.
The Reign could be without two-thirds of their toughest line Friday in Alaska. Count on Shayne Neigum seeing plenty of time at forward, and Kevin Estrada getting a long look in his debut game, with Bill Bagron centering the line.
One thing the two cities happen to have in common is hockey; the St. John’s IceCaps joined the American Hockey League this season, and even briefly employed a Reign player, defenseman Mike Montgomery.
Reign goalie Chris Carrozzi figured he’d spend some time in St. John’s; he is a Winnipeg Jets prospect and the IceCaps are a Jets affiliate. So over the summer he ordered his goalie mask painted in IceCaps colors (after the jump): Continue reading →
J.D. Watt became the first Reign forward recalled to the American Hockey League on Monday, when the 24-year-old right wing found out mid-practice that he was headed to the Manchester Monarchs. Watt was scheduled to catch his flight east this afternoon.
Watt, who came to Ontario on an AHL contract, has seven points (one goal, six assists) and 66 penalty minutes in 22 games this season. What he lacks in skill — his 1.7% shooting accuracy is the lowest among all Reign players with at least 20 shots on goal — he makes up for in controlled aggression. A familiar presence in the opponent’s crease, Watt mostly racked up penalty minutes with his fists, drawing nearly as many minors as he committed.
He’s the first Reign forward to be promoted this season. Defensemen JP Cote, Mike Montgomery, Dylan Yeo and goaltender Darcy Kuemper are all currently playing in the AHL. The Reign’s forward core has been remarkably consistent this season. Without Watt, here’s how they are expected to skate Friday in Alaska:
Geoff Irwin-CJ Stretch-Derek Couture Kevin Estrada-Francois Brisebois-Kyle Kraemer Chris Cloud-Bill Bagron-Matt Tassone Shayne Neigum (forward or defense)
More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
At some point this season, Jason Christie will move into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time ECHL wins list. The Reign coach is presently tied with Jeff Brubaker and Malcolm Cameron with 317 career wins.
In an odd twist, Christie can do so without actually coaching a game.
The ECHL suspended Christie one game, to be served tomorrow in Las Vegas, for grabbing an official’s shirt toward the end of Sunday night’s game against the Stockton Thunder. Assistant coach Mark Hardy will be the only Reign coach in the locker room or behind the bench tomorrow.
However, a spokesperson for the league said Wednesday via e-mail that “the
ECHL credits the head coach with the win, loss, etc. if he is
suspended, so the result of Thursday’s game will be reflected on Jason’s
If the Reign beat the Las Vegas Wranglers tomorrow, Christie might end up watching his career milestone on a grainy internet feed.
The ECHL doesn’t officially keep records for Most Awkward Moments, but this one could rank fairly high on the list. Already, the league put out a news release recognizing Christie’s 317th win.
We can only imagine how the next release might read.
From Todd and Christie Jenkins of the Junior Reign Sled Hockey team:
Our first official season as the Junior Reign Sled Hockey team will kick off at 7:00 PM on Monday, January 9th, 2012! We will be practicing on alternate Monday evenings for now, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Our brand-new coach is Dave Davies, a Level 4 Certified USA Hockey coach, who has officially signed on to lead our team. He’s on the left in the photo below with Nicholas [Jenkins] and Matt Dunaev, Icetown’s hockey director. We are happy to have Dave on board, and he is excited to be part of Southern California’s inaugural sled hockey program.
Reign coach Jason Christie was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount Tuesday by the ECHL. The coach was hardly surprised, after he grabbed the shirt of linesman Steven Walsh late in the third period of Sunday’s 2-0 loss.
Assistant Mark Hardy will be the only coach behind the Reign bench Thursday in Las Vegas. It’s the first time Hardy has been in that position since 1995, when he was on injured reserve as a defenseman for the IHL’s Detroit Vipers and then-Vipers coach Rick Dudley asked Hardy to coach 19 games.
Christie hasn’t been suspended by the ECHL since receiving a three-game ban in 2001 when, as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen, he was involved in an altercation with the opposing coach during a game.
Plenty more from Christie in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
It’s been an unusually busy week in hockey, both locally and nationally, keeping this reporter on his toes a tad more.
Then Jason Christie grabbed a linesman’s shirt Sunday night.
There was no word out of the ECHL offices Monday whether or not Christie will face supplementary discipline. Expect that decision to be handed down tomorrow or Wednesday. The Reign visit the Las Vegas Wranglers on Thursday.
One bright spot in the Reign’s 2-0 loss Sunday was the continued progression of goalie Chris Carrozzi, who will be the focus of tomorrow’s notebook on Page 2 of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. In short, dude’s had a rough start to the season. Somewhat reminiscent of Beau Erickson last year.
Here are a few things that won’t make the notebook (but are still newsworthy): Continue reading →