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:
Continue reading

Reign 4, Bakersfield 1.

The Reign are on a roll.

There wasn’t much to complain about after a 4-1 win that saw four players score goals, a perfect 7-for-7 effort on the penalty kill and a 2-for-4 power play performance. Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves and didn’t have to be spectacular in improving to 4-0-0 on the season.

Matt Tassone, C.J. Stretch, Chris Cloud and Bill Bagron scored the goals. Steven Tarasuk had two assists, while Shayne Neigum, Brady Calla, Francois Brisebois and Bagron had one each. Bagron also finished a plus-2 on the evening.

The win was the Reign’s third straight (during which they’ve outscored opponents 14-4) and their fourth in the last five games (a 4-0-1 stretch).

No home games for another eight days, but the Reign are in Alaska Friday, Saturday and Sunday for three games against the Aces.

Election night meant early deadlines, which meant I didn’t have as much time as usual after this game for quote- and information-gathering, but here’s a few items that won’t make tomorrow’s game story:

Continue reading

Bakersfield Condors are looking for a new coach.

Missed this one Wednesday. From the Bakersfield Californian:

It was a job Marty Raymond didn’t even apply for and, in the end, an offer he could not refuse.

Thus, the Bakersfield Condors are seeking a new head coach for the
first time since Raymond took the helm late in the 2003-2004 season and
Raymond will be heading to Zagreb, Croatia as coach for the KHL
Medvescak Bears who play in the Austrian Elite League.

“I didn’t even apply for the job, they came to me,” said Raymond. “Some
guys (including Ryan Kinasewich who played in Utah in 2009-10 before
heading to Croatia this season), put my name in.”

Raymond turned down the first offer but when the team sweetened the
pot, he talked it over with his wife, and the decision was made.

“The (first offer) was OK but not worth disrupting the family,” he said. “The counter offer was a no brainer.”

Thus Raymond found himself in the position many an ECHL player has been
in: lured to Europe due to the opportunity to make more money.

And if you enjoy erroneous translations, you’ll enjoy this article on the topic.

Notes from practice.

Considering the Reign have the ECHL’s worst record, have been eliminated from the playoffs, and don’t have any recent college or CHL graduates in on tryout contracts, maintaining the current roster and system might seem like the most radical course of action for the final three games of the season.

Yet that’s exactly what Karl Taylor is planning to do.

“You think about it, like ‘gee, I always wanted to try this, or experiment,’ but no. We’re not trying to do anything,” Taylor said after a brisk practice Tuesday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Bakersfield. “We played very well last weekend, executed well, showed a lot of character. We need to do that at home this weekend and reward our fans.”

The Reign wound up as a decent road team this season — 34 points (15-17-2-2) in 36 games — after taking two of three in Idaho last week. If the Reign won at the same rate at home as they did on the road, they would finish with 68 points this season. Considering that Victoria has 66 points with three games left on the schedule, that might be enough to make the playoffs. Certainly it would have given the Reign a shot.

Unfortunately, they lost 12 of 13 at home to start the season, which was ultimately the team’s downfall.

“I’ve seen us lose more at home than we would like to show them (the fans),” Taylor said.

Veteran defensemen Shawn Germain and David Walker had some strong thoughts on that topic. Both have talked about calling it a career after this season. Their approach to what could be the final week of their pro careers will be the focus of tomorrow’s story in the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

(Spoiler alert: Neither player has committed to retiring. Germain called his own bluff this year; Walker said he’s going to make up his mind for good after undergoing a pair of surgeries in the offseason.)

A few more notes:

Continue reading

Bakersfield 5, Reign 2.

In Victoria, two is a magic number.

I’m not sure what the opposite of “magic” is, but the same number is facing the Reign and it can’t feel nearly as good. Their loss in Bakersfield, combined with the Salmon Kings’ 3-2 loss to the Utah Grizzlies, puts the magic number — the combined number of Reign losses and Salmon Kings wins needed to eliminate the Reign from the playoffs — at two.

In plain English, the Reign could be eliminated as soon as Wednesday. That’s when both teams play next; Victoria is at Bakersfield and the Reign are at Idaho. Even if it doesn’t happen Wednesday, there’s a sinking sense of inevitability. The Reign have six games left in the regular season, the Salmon Kings have seven, and if the Reign are going to make the playoffs they will need to win at least five and see the Salmon Kings lose at least that many.

The game details seem somewhat muted by the circumstances, but here they are: Justin Taylor scored 43 seconds into the game and got into a fight with Bobby Robins 35 seconds later. Vyatcheslav Trukhno scored the first of two power-play goals by the Condors at 6:32 to tie the game at 1, and Adam Naglich scored short-handed at 3:18 of the second to make it 2-1 Condors.

Alex Bourret’s 10th goal of the season pulled the Reign even with 57 seconds left in the second period, but Joel Broda’s first goal of the game 11 seconds later restored the Condors’ one-goal lead. The Reign would never get the goal back — Broda scored again at 10:05 of the third and Trukhno provided the final score with an empty-net goal at 18:03.

Beau Erickson (39 saves) wound up the loser in his first start since March 15, a span of 15 days. The Reign were outshot 44-24 according to the final scoresheet and fell to 3-9-0-2 against the Condors for the season.

Aaron Lewadniuk did not play for the Reign, who went 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed two power-play goals by the Condors.

Bakersfield 3, Reign 1.

That sound coming from Bakersfield was the nail being hammered just a bit deeper into the Reign’s coffin.

Tonight’s loss to the Condors, combined with the Victoria Salmon Kings’ 5-2 win over the Utah Grizzlies, leaves the Reign (23-36-2-4, 52 points) nine points behind the Salmon Kings (29-32-1-2) for the final Western Conference playoff berth with seven games left in the regular season.

The Reign needed help to harbor any optimism about the playoffs — and got none from a Victoria team that has suddenly won two straight. They also got no help from a red-hot Condors squad that won its seventh straight game, and its 10th in 13 games against the Reign this season.

James McEwan scored the Reign’s only goal on a re-direction of a Luke Beaverson shot at 13:30 of the second period. Bobby Robins, Stephane Goulet and Phil Paquet scored the Bakersfield goals as Jase Weslosky stopped 35 of 38 shots. According to the unofficial stat sheet, the Reign were outshot 38-24.

After Friday’s turn of events it’s possible to see the end of the road: The Reign could be eliminated as early as next Wednesday, when they begin a three-game series in Idaho and the Salmon Kings visit Bakersfield.

The Reign play the Condors again at 7 p.m. Saturday. Utah and Victoria play again Saturday, too.

Reign 4, Bakersfield 2.

Playing their third game in three days, the Reign turned in their only win of the weekend in Bakersfield.

Aaron Lewadniuk, Shawn Germain, David Walker and Chaz Johnson scored goals on Josh Tordjman (20 saves), and Reign goalie Mike Zacharias stopped 49 shots to match Beau Erickson’s season-high total from two days earlier.

Jordan Morrison had three assists, including pretty feeds to set up Johnson and Germain on the breakaway. Justin Taylor had a pair of assists, and Kyle Kraemer and Michael Pelech had one helper each.

Playing his first game of the weekend, Zacharias succeeded against the same barrage of shots that Erickson saw Friday and Saturday. The Condors had their share of odd-man rushes (while also surrendering a few to the Reign), but Zacharias didn’t seem to face the same amount of net-front pressure that kept Erickson from seeing the puck in a 7-3 loss the night before.

Considering Bakersfield registered 157 shots on goal this weekend, the Reign were lucky to escape with three points. By going 1-1-1, the Reign (19-30-2-3, 43 points) lost a
point in the standings to sixth-place Bakersfield (26-24-2-1, 55 points)
but gained a point on seventh-place Victoria (24-27-1-2, 51 points).

The Salmon Kings were shut out 4-0 in Stockton on Sunday.

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Bakersfield 7, Reign 3.

The Reign suffered their most lopsided loss in the last eight games, temporarily halting their momentum and dashing any plans of quickly gaining ground in the Western Conference standings.

The game slipped gradually away after goals by Luke Beaverson and Jordan Morrison 18 seconds apart gave the Reign a 2-1 lead at 2:48 of the second period. Beaverson’s goal, helped by a net-front screen by C.J. Stretch, avenged Pascal Morency’s first-period putback for Bakersfield.

Morrison completed a 2-on-1 breakaway thanks to a great cross pass from Chaz Johnson, with Doug Krantz picking up the second assist.

The rest was (almost) all Condors, who scored six unanswered goals to send the Reign to their ninth loss in 11 head-to-head meetings this season. Morency and Guillaume Levebvre scored two goals apiece, and linemate Brad Snetsinger finished with three assists. Three others scored one goal apiece.

Shawn Collymore completed the scoring with a quick wrist shot past Brian Stewart (27 saves) with 34 seconds left, his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Beau Erickson was the hard-luck loser. He had to face a season-high 53 shots for the second straight night, finishing with 46 saves.

The two teams play again at 6 p.m. Sunday in Bakersfield.

Bakersfield 5, Reign 4, SO.

Stephane Goulet’s goal in the first shootout round was the difference in a back-and-forth game at Rabobank Arena.

The Reign fell 61 seconds short of a much-needed regulation win. Trailing 4-3 late in the game, Condors coach Marty Raymond called timeout and pulled starting goalie Brian Stewart for an extra attacker. Six seconds later, Joel Broda deposited a wrist shot over the glove of Beau Erickson to tie the game at 4.

Erickson could hardly be faulted for the loss. Making his second straight start, Erickson faced 53 shots over the first 65 minutes, then five more in the shootout, recording a season-high 49 saves. Shawn Collymore, Chaz Johnson, Aaron Lewadniuk and Brett O’Malley scored for the Reign (18-29-2-3, 41 points), who fell 10 points behind the victorious Victoria Salmon Kings in the race for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

By picking up the extra point, Bakersfield (25-23-2-1, 53 points) moved 12 points ahead of the Reign. Broda, Michael Gergen and Andrew Ianeiro scored the other goals for the Condors.

A few more notes:

Continue reading