Chris Carrozzi’s claim to fame.

St. John’s, Newfoundland, is more than 4,000 miles away from Ontario, California. To say it’s half a world away is not inaccurate.

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

Watt recalled, injury updates, other notes from practice.

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.

Christie, ECHL on verge of awkward moment.

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
record.”

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.

Junior Reign sled hockey update.

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.

57082--1-thumb-500x400-57081.jpg

Continue reading

Christie suspended one game and other notes.

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.

A few more notes from practice:
Continue reading

Emptying out the notebook.

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

And tomorrow’s starting goalie will be …

… Chris Carrozzi.

Who, you might ask?

Carrozzi is a Winnipeg Jets prospect and a 2008 sixth-round draft pick (154th overall) of the former Atlanta Thrashers. He was assigned to the Colorado Eagles to start the season but wasn’t getting much playing time, appearing in only one of the Eagles’ first 17 games. Coincidentally, that game was a 6-2 victory by the Reign in Colorado on Nov. 5.

Reign coach Jason Christie said that the Jets will assign Carrozzi to Ontario and Dustin Carlson will back him up against the Stockton Thunder. Jean-Francois Berube remains sidelined by an upper-body injury and did not practice Tuesday; Christie said that Berube will resume skating tomorrow.

Not much stands out about Carrozzi on the surface. The 21-year-old was stuck with a 6.00 goals-against average in his only appearance this season. Last season, he backstopped 47 games for the Gwinnett Gladiators, going 16-20-2-4 with a 3.23 GAA, which ranked 21st in the league.

But considering the Gladiators missed the playoffs altogether, Carrozzi’s 2010-11 numbers — which included two shutouts — aren’t awful. His junior career with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors culminated with OHL Goaltender of the Year Honors in 2009-10, after a 19-10-5/2.36/.916 season. Carrozzi signed his entry-level contract with the Thrashers after that season.

Continue reading

Kuemper named Goaltender of the Week

On the same day the Minnesota Wild officially re-assigned him to AHL affiliate Houston, Darcy Kuemper has been Named Reebok Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for November 21-27.

The 21-year-old was 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage. Kuemper stopped 38 shots in a 4-2 win at Bakersfield on Saturday and carried the momentum into Sunday, when he turned aside 35 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Condors in Ontario. He backstopped a Reign penalty-kill unit which denied the Condors on 13 of 14 odd-man chances. Bakersfield’s only power-play goal came during on a 6-on-3 attack with 1:02 left in Sunday’s game.

The last Reign netminder to win goalie of the week honors was Kellen Briggs, for the week Nov 8-14, 2010.

Darcy Kuemper is promoted, and it could last a while.

The Minnesota Wild have re-assigned Darcy Kuemper to the Houston Aeros, their American Hockey League affiliate. It’s the second promotion for the rookie goalie this season, who spent one weekend with the NHL club but did not play.

Kuemper is leading the ECHL in goals-against average (1.74) and save percentage (.941) while going 7-1-0, accounting for all but two of the Reign’s nine wins.

While his first promotion was brief, Kuemper could be up for a while longer this time. According to a report on the Finnish website iltalehti.fi, the Aeros are losing their backup goalie, Dennis Endras, to HIFK of the Finnish League. Endras had been backing up Matt Hackett. The Aeros are planning to issue an official release tomorrow.

The Reign host the Stockton Thunder on Wednesday. Goalies Jean-Francois Berube and Dustin Carlson remain on the active roster, though Berube missed two games against the Bakersfield Condors over the weekend with an “upper-body injury.” The injury is not believed to be a concussion, and coach Jason Christie said that Berube is day-to-day.

More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Reign 2, Bakersfield 1.

Matt Tassone and Geoff Irwin scored the goals and Darcy Kuemper was Darcy Kuemper, making the easy saves look easy and the hard saves look easy while barely missing out on a shutout. He stopped 35 of 36.

Kuemper and the Reign should be glad they survived a night in which they were short-handed nine times, including all of the final 1:58. Bakersfield cashed in during a 6-on-3 shift when Justin Pender scored with 1:02 left but that was it for the Condors, who have lost eight in a row.

Check out the game story in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin. A few notes that won’t make the print edition:
Continue reading