Irwin suspended four games, Couture one.

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.

Alaska 3, Reign 1.

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.

Another ECHL line brawl – this one’s bigger.

The ECHL wasted no time handing out discipline from last night’s benches-clearing brawl in Anchorage between the Condors and the Alaska Aces. (There wasn’t much time to wait – the two teams play again tonight).

First, the video:

Now, the fallout – some of which will affect the Condors’ lineup against the Reign next month:

• Bakersfield enforcer Erick Lizon was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended nine games – seven games for his role in the aforementioned altercation, another two games for “his actions in the first period.” (Lizon wasn’t penalized in the first period, and there’s no video evidence of any infraction, so maybe someone who saw the game can chime in.) Among the nine games Lizon will miss are games Feb. 4, 5 and 18 against the Reign.

• Condors defenseman Joe Rullier was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended three games, including the Feb. 4 game against the Reign.

• Seven other players and both coaches have all been fined and suspended at least one game. The benches should be particularly short tonight: Neither Marty Raymond nor Brent Thompson will be behind the benches. Bakersfield must play without Lizon, Rullier, Slava Trukhno, Joey Ryan and Guillaume Lefebvre. Alaska must play without Scott Burt and Chris Langkow.

• The hometown Aces received an undisclosed fine from the ECHL and, capping a busy week in Bakersfield, the Condors organization was fined by the league, too.

Here’s the game recap in the Anchorage Daily News, and here’s the momentous box score. Note the combined 249 penalty minutes.

Reign 3, Alaska 2.

Print out the scoresheet and frame it: The Reign won at home.

Dusty Collins’ short-handed goal at 5:46 of the third period served as the game-winner, new defenseman Jason Fredricks got the game-tying goal on a lucky bounce off the boards, and C.J. Stretch scored on the Reign’s first shot of the game.

That allowed a strong 34-save effort by Beau Erickson to hold up before an announced crowd of 6,433.

Alaska saw its streak of 11 games with a point, including 10 wins in those 11 games, come to an end.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin, including Karl Taylor’s thoughts on the rare illegal-hit-to-the-head penalty that got Chaz Johnson ejected from the game in the first period.

Alaska 5, Reign 3.

The Reign return home having found their stroke on offense.

Defense was another matter as the Reign lost their third game on a four-game road trip, 5-3 in Alaska, in a game that saw the Aces lead in shots, 47-19. Alaska benefited from eight power plays (converting two) to four for the Reign.

Kellen Briggs was chased after allowing four goals on 23 shots, at which point the Reign trailed 4-1 midway through the second period. Beau Erickson stopped all 23 shots he faced in relief but also picked up a 10-minute misconduct at 5:43 of the third period.

The line of Jordan Morrison (two goals, assist) Alex Bourret (one assist) and Chaz Johnson (one goal) did all of the damage on offense for the Reign, who host the red-hot Bakersfield Condors Wednesday at The Bank. Bakersfield has won 8 of 9.

Alaska 5, Reign 3.

The Reign returned to the site of arguably their greatest success this season – a three-game sweep at Sullivan Arena in November – but fell short of their fourth straight win in Alaska.

Aaron Lewadniuk’s second goal of the game, at 14:08 of the third period, forged a 3-3 tie that didn’t last long. Forty-four seconds later former NHL center Brian Swanson restored Alaska’s lead. Scott Howes’ empty-net goal with 47 seconds left in the game sealed the Reign’s second straight loss.

Lewadniuk scored 11:57 into the first period to provide a 1-0 lead and Dusty Collins’ power-play goal made it 2-1 at 9:18 of the second. That was the last time the Reign would lead.

Linemates Swanson (goal, assist) and Howes (two goals, assist) both finished plus-3 for Alaska. Kyle Kraemer had two assists and Shawn Germain had another.

Kellen Briggs stopped 31 of 35 shots for the Reign, who face the Aces at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Reign 2, Alaska 1.

Power-play goals by center Dusty Collins and defenseman David Walker gave the Reign a 2-1 win Sunday, completing three-game road sweep of the Alaska Aces.

Collins, playing his fifth game of the ECHL season, scored his first goal of the season 44 seconds into the middle period. Since returning from the American Hockey League, the veteran has a goal and four assists.

Walker added an insurance goal at 16:50, the first of the season for the team captain. That proved crucial when Aces winger Wes Goldie scored with 40 seconds left in the game to provide the final score.

Goaltender Kellen Briggs started all three games of the series in goal and stopped 30 of 31 shots. Defenseman Eric Doyle had two assists in his third game back from an upper-body injury, giving him six points (goal, five assists) in seven games this season. Jeff Corey and Jordan Morrison also had assists.

The Reign (5-6-0-1) went 2-for-4 on the power play and killed all three man-advantage shifts for the Aces (7-4-1-0), who entered the series with the best record in the Western Conference.

The Reign return home for a six-game homestand beginning Friday against the Victoria Salmon Kings.

Reign 4, Alaska 3.

The Reign have a modest winning streak going, and this time they didn’t need overtime.

Jeff Corey scored two more goals, giving him three in the first two
games of the three-game series, and lifting the Reign to their second
win over the Alaska Aces in as many days. Corey scored once on the power
play, once short-handed, and Lane Caffaro and Jon Francisco also scored
for the Reign (4-6-0-1).

Kellen Briggs, who had 37 saves in an overtime win Friday, stopped 31 of 34 shots in net. Center Dusty Collins
had three assists and defenseman David Walker had two helpers for the
Reign, who can finish off the three-game sweep today at Sullivan Arena.

Alaska (7-3-1-0) pulled ahead 2-1 at 12:35 of the middle period on Wes Goldie’s second goal of the game, but Caffaro’s power-play goal at 17:08 tied the game at 2.

Corey, who has quite a history of success at Sullivan, leads the team with six goals and 10 points in 11 games. Defenseman Eric Doyle picked up an assist in his first action after missing five games with an upper-body injury. He was activated from IR, and center C.J. Stretch took his place, prior to the game.

Reign 2, Alaska 1, OT.

Karl Taylor said Monday that he hoped the Reign’s seven-game losing streak amounted to “our slump for the season.” That thinking seems less wishful, and a bit closer to reality, after a 2-1 overtime win in Alaska on Friday.

The Reign won despite being outshot 39-14. Kellen Briggs made 37 saves, and Jeff Corey’s end-to-end goal ended the game 39 seconds into overtime. Michael Pelech scored with 9:19 left in the third period to tie the game at 1, his first goal coming in his second game back from the American Hockey League.

The two teams play again Saturday night at Sullivan Arena.

Sizing up Sullivan.

This weekend’s three-game series between the Reign and Alaska Aces is a homecoming of sorts for defenseman Luke Beaverson, who called Sullivan Arena home during his four-year career at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Sullivan is notable for being the only rink in the ECHL’s Western Conference (it’s also believed to be the only pro rink in North America) with Olympic dimensions. Unlike the 85-by-200-foot playing surface used by most North American teams (including the Reign), an Olympic rink is 98 feet wide.

“Every time you think you’re running out of room, you’ve got an extra five feet, Beaverson said. “Defensively and offensively, that can be an advantage if you’re driving wide on a guy, and a D-man like me who’s been used to playing on an NHL-sized rink, got an extra five feet wide.

“The guy can beat you wide. There’s a lot of extra room out there. The corners are deeper. It’s just a little different.”
Continue reading “Sizing up Sullivan.” »