Martens signs with Central Hockey League’s Wichita Thunder.

Defenseman Andrew Martens, a member of the Reign since the team’s inaugural season, has signed with the Wichita (KS) Thunder of the Central Hockey League.

Martens was one of two signings (along with former Idaho Steelheads defenseman Kory Scoran) announced Saturday by Kevin McClelland, an NHL veteran who is beginning his first season as the Thunder’s head coach.

The 29-year-old Martens spent the entire 2009-10 season in Ontario, recovering from a slow start to post four goals and 37 points in 72 games. He split the 2008-09 season between the Reign (7+24=31 in 48 games) and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose (0+5=5 in 11 games) and Toronto Marlies (1+5=6 in 16 games).

Martens showed improvement in his defensive game last season, but will be missed more for his offense. He was the Reign’s strongest skating defenseman and his breakaway potential made him one of the team’s more exciting players.

He also holds the distinction of having scored the first goal in franchise history, both in the Reign’s first preseason game and in their first regular-season game.

Reign pack their bags, Voce calls it a career.

When the Reign packed up their equipment and left The Bank one last time on Monday, the moment meant a little more to Tony Voce, who announced that Saturday’s game in Las Vegas was the last of his professional career.

The 29-year-old forward is moving back to Philadelphia to be with his wife and family. He said he wasn’t the same after the knee injury that cost him a month of the season in November and December.

“I was hurt most of the year,” he said. “Once it was done, it’s done.”
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Update from Friday’s morning skate.

Today’s morning skate at the Orleans Arena was optional for the Reign, and 11 players took to the ice: Greg Hogeboom, Tim Kraus, Chad Starling, Andrew Martens, Mike Egener, Luis Tremblay, Dan Knapp, Peter Lenes, C.J. Stretch, Jordan Nolan, and Mike Zacharias.

Zacharias was the only goalie on the ice, which in most cases (barring injuries or other unforeseen circumstances) means that he’ll be the backup in the game. Expect Curtis Darling – who turned in a good performance in a losing effort Thursday – to get his second straight start.

I caught up with Nolan and Karl Taylor to discuss Nolan’s pro debut; more on that in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Here are the elimination scenarios for tonight:

- If the Reign lose in regulation, or Victoria beats Utah (7 p.m. Pacific start time in British Columbia), the Reign are eliminated from playoff contention.
- If the Reign lose in overtime or a shootout, they need Victoria to lose in regulation in order to avoid elimination.
- If the Reign win (either in regulation or in overtime/shootout), they need Victoria to lose (either in regulation or overtime/shootout) to avoid elimination.

Taking all of tonight’s nine potential scenarios into account, the Reign are eliminated in six of them. They need help.

Tonight and tomorrow, get used to the phrase “Go Grizzlies!”

Martens named ECHL player of week.

Reign defenseman Andrew Martens has been named the Sher-wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for March 15-21.

The 28-year-old had eight points (two goals, six assists) in four games to help Ontario go 2-1-1 for the week. Martens recorded the first four-point game of his career, and his second three-assist game of the season, Sunday in Ontario’s 6-5 shootout loss to Idaho. He had at least one point in all four games for the week and had a plus-minus rating of plus-4.

Martens has a five-game point streak that started when he recorded one assist during the Reign’s 4-3 win at Alaska on March 13. After a slow start to the season, he is third on the Reign with 29 assists and sixth in points with 33. His 17 power-play assists rank second among the team and he is currently tied for 13th among ECHL defensemen in points.

Idaho 6, Reign 5, shootout.

Geoff Walker scored the game-tying goal with 2:18 left in regulation, and the Reign gained a point to match Utah with 68 points in the National Conference standings.

Mike Zacharias made his third consecutive start in net and made 30 saves in regulation and overtime, but couldn’t stop Marty Flichel’s forehand attempt in the fifth and final round of the shootout.
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Reign 7, Idaho 4.

The Reign jumped out to a rare 5-0 lead, enabling them to withstand a four-goal third period by Idaho in a game with plenty of implications in the standings.

Seventh-place Utah won, meaning a loss would have kept the Reign three points back of the National Conference’s final playoff berth.

Now seven teams are separated by one point each for the final six playoff positions: Bakersfield (71), Victoria (70), Las Vegas (69), Alaska (68), Stockton (67), Utah (66) and Ontario (65).
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Reign 4, Idaho 1.

Greg Hogeboom, Michael Pelech, Peter Lenes and Jon Francisco scored goals – the latter going into an empty net with 21 seconds left – and Curtis Darling made 29 saves as the Reign defeated the top-ranked team in the National Conference.

More details in tomorrow’s editions, but here were the postgame thoughts of Karl Taylor and Andrew Martens …
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A couple notes for the weekend.

1. Defenseman Andrew Martens was playing forward last night for the Reign in Idaho, skating on a line with Mike Howe, Michael Pelech and sometimes James McEwan. This isn’t a new development; Martens did the same last year for the Reign when injuries hit particularly hard, and Karl Taylor recently joked that Martens did so well at forward it was hard to move him back to the blue line. He took the place of winger Chris Curran, who was placed on 3-day injured reserve prior to the game, a move that will keep Curran out of Friday’s rematch in Boise. We’re not sure if Curran has been set back at all in his recovery from a broken leg, or if it’s something else, but will try to update when the team returns Monday.


2. Greg Hogeboom and Peter Lenes continue to be the main men responsible for picking up the scoring slack with Tony Voce injured, and Jon Rheault and Dwight King in Manchester. Hogeboom has at least one goal in every game this month, including a hat trick on Dec. 2, for a total of six goals and two assists in four games. The rookie Lenes is clearly adjusting to the ECHL level, with four goals and two assists in December, as well as the only goal in Wednesday’s shootout. His shootout technique was predictably fast and furious, finished not by anything fancy but a simple forehand that Rejean Beauchemin didn’t see coming. Beauchemin, who is second in the ECHL with a 2.43 goals-against average, had not lost in a shootout this season.

3. The Reign will wear specially-designed L.A. Kings affiliate jerseys Friday and Saturday in Idaho. It might seem weird to debut it on the road, but it might equally seem unfair that the Steelheads wore specially-designed Dallas Stars affiliate jerseys on Wednesday.

Bakersfield 4, Reign 3, shootout.

A close game for the first 65 minutes was anything but in the shootout, where Stephane Goulet, Dan Sexton and MacGregor Sharp scored on Curtis Darling to give the Bakersfield Condors a 4-3 win Wednesday.

Michael Pelech scored his first goal of the season, and Tony Voce and Peter Lenes also scored for the Reign, the latter coming short-handed. Darling stopped 31 of 34 shots in net.

The game began at 10:30 a.m., part of an annual Field Trip promotion at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.

Neither the Reign (7-8-1) nor the Condors (9-6-0) had participated in a shootout or overtime game this season. Greg Hogeboom, Tim Kraus and Andrew Martens were foiled in the skills competition by Bakersfield goalie Timo Pielmeier, who stopped 25 of 28 shots prior to the shootout.

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