Following up with Beau Erickson.

Two days after Beau Erickson’s candid rant against the Reign, both the goalie and his former team have moved on — the Reign with J-F Berube, Jase Weslosky and Dustin Carlson in goal; Erickson with a couple options on the table but still no contract.

I spoke with Erickson this afternoon on the phone, and he said he’s talked to two ECHL teams and three Central Hockey League teams since he was released. He’d like to make a decision about his playing future early next week and hasn’t ruled out retiring.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Erickson said. “I’m going to take some time and make the best decision for me.”

In subsequent conversations I’ve had since Erickson’s interview was published, one factual discrepancy emerged between the goalie’s version of the story and the team’s. Christie said he never got a call from any other ECHL team asking if Erickson was available. Erickson claims that one team, the Cincinnati Cyclones, did reach out to him directly.

“I know for a fact, and I can show you through my records, through text messages and e-mails, that a call was placed by Cincinnati the Friday before I arrived (at training camp),” said Erickson, who declined to elaborate on the substance of the conversations.

That might explain the discrepancy: Christie wasn’t turning teams away from Erickson’s services because he never got any calls about Erickson’s services. The goalie must have assumed otherwise, since one team reached out to him directly prior to camp.

Unless something else emerges, the remaining gray area is a matter of opinion — and that’s what makes sports great. Players, coaches and fans can all debate who should and shouldn’t make the opening-day roster, who should start and who should back up, who should be on what forward line and what defense pair.

And starting tonight, we can all watch some actual regular-season hockey.

As always, comments are welcome below.

Update (10/17): Something else emerged. I just got off the phone with Jarrod Skalde, the Cincinnati Cyclones’ head coach (the Cyclones were on the road all weekend). Erickson said that Skalde reached out to him directly the Friday before training camp. Skalde says he didn’t.

“I don’t even talk to agents about goalies at all. We always get a goalie from San Antonio and Milwaukee,” Skalde said. “I’ve never spoken to Beau or his agent. I tell everyone we have no room for goalies. Of course now, that’s not the case. I need one.”

And so we have yet another contradiction in the account of events. Regardless of who’s telling the truth — I provide this service merely to point out the contradiction — it’s a moot point as the Reign are concerned.

Irate Erickson rails against Christie.

Beau Erickson thought his job was more safe than it actually was. That’s the ultimate reason for the candid war of words waged Wednesday by the former Reign goalie against coach Jason Christie.

From the coach’s standpoint, the story goes like this:

Christie plans on playing J-F Berube a lot. The Kings’ 2009 fourth-round draft pick is fully healthy after off-season hip surgery and is eager to begin his first pro season. When picking a backup goalie, a player who might not appear in half the games over the course of a season, saving money is a priority. This has become a universal truth in the NHL and in this regard the ECHL is sometimes no different.

Even by the standards of the ECHL, where no player earned more than $26,000 last season, Erickson didn’t make much during his 29-game stint with the Reign. But it’s safe to say he got a raise over the summer and was set to make more than either Jase Weslosky or Dustin Carlson, who have 29 games of pro experience between them. Erickson and Weslosky were both re-signed by Karl Taylor, while Carlson was brought in on a tryout by Christie.

So when I asked Christie what went into the decision to cut Erickson, here’s what he had to say:
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Beau Erickson is the lone cut as roster takes shape.

Wednesday was more a day of ecstasy than agony at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

When Reign coach Jason Christie submitted his first roster to the ECHL, Dustin Carlson, August Aiken and Jeff MacPhee were on it. All three were in training camp on tryout contracts, longshots to get an ECHL deal, but by virtue of some combination of luck and skill, they were among the chosen few. MacPhee called it “probably one of my proudest moments in hockey.”

The lone cut was Beau Erickson as head coach Jason Christie decided to keep three goalies for now — Kings prospect J-F Berube (who took part in his first practice), Jase Weslosky and Carlson.

Erickson, who appeared in 29 games for the Reign last season, didn’t have a bad camp. The 25-year-old allowed only one goal in 30 minutes in his only preseason action Sunday in Las Vegas. His glove was plenty sharp in practice, so what gave? More on that in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

A couple more notes:
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More on Erickson, Kraemer.

Today’s story on Beau Erickson and Kyle Kraemer re-signing with the Reign left little room to explore a couple interesting tangents.

1. Erickson has been working with Milwaukee-based sports psychologist Curtis Brackenbury for the first time this summer.

“He came highly recommended from some guys in St. Louis as well as [Anaheim Ducks goalie] Danny Ellis,” Erickson said. “We talk every week, talk on some things that help my game, reasons certain things help out there, to enhance what I get out of practice, team situations … the way I prepare, handle certain situations — things like that. It’s matured my game.”

Erickson said that Brackenbury also counts Ellis, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a number of recent NHL draftees, and some members of the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars among his current clients.

Reign coach Karl Taylor said that it’s essential for goalies to have a short memory — for example, after they’ve allowed a goal or played a bad game. “Everyone’s looking for an edge,” he said. “If that gives Beau an edge, we support it 100 percent.”
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Erickson, Kraemer give Reign four signed players.

Beau Erickson and Kyle Kraemer have re-signed with the Reign, the team announced today, bringing the 2011-12 roster into a bit more focus.

Erickson was a trouper during a rough season and his final numbers (3.39 goals-against average, .906 save percentage) reflect that. But after losing his first five starts, the 25-year-old from Iowa went 11-7-1-2 to finish the season. He and Jase Weslosky — along with Jason Fredricks, one of two signings announced last week — give the Reign two goalies under contract to start the season.

While it would be a shame to lose the only known Reign-themed goalie mask in existence, Erickson said Tuesday that he’s also looking latch on in an AHL or even an NHL training camp.

If that doesn’t happen, he’s not worried about being thrust into a goalie competition in Ontario – even if the Kings assign J-F Berube to the Reign. “Competition is good. It’s healthy. I’m not too concerned about it,” Erickson said.

Kraemer was at times a complimentary player, at other times a star on a Reign team starved for scoring, finishing with 16 goals and 37 points in 54 games. He spent part of his summer honing his skills in the Czech Republic for the U.S. Inline Hockey team, falling short to the host country in the gold-medal game.

“My goals are to A, be consistent. B, help our team win every night and C, get called up eventually,” he said.

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

Reign announce season-ending roster.

The Reign have announced their season-ending roster, a list of 20 players of whom eight can be tendered qualifying offers no later than July 1:

Jordan Hill, Jase Weslosky, Jordan Morrison, Kyle Kraemer, Jason Fredricks, C.J. Stretch, Aaron Lewadniuk, Beau Erickson, Pat Bowen, Luke Beaverson, James McEwan, Brett O’Malley, Lane Caffaro, Craig Gaudet, Alex Bourret, Doug Krantz, Kellen Briggs, Chaz Johnson, David Walker and Matt Delahey.

Of the players who finished 2010-11 with the Reign, six are missing from the list:

• Forward Michael Pelech, who was assigned to the Reign by the Manchester Monarchs.

• Five veterans (as defined by the ECHL): Shawn Collymore, Shawn Germain, Jon Francisco, Chad Starling and Justin Taylor. Reign coach Karl Taylor has stated that he doesn’t send qualifying offers to veterans out of principle, since they can decline the offer and become a free agent without any possible compensation to the Reign.

Walker is a veteran. But the captain said that he expects to play in Europe next season [more on this in a future blog], so a qualifying offer sent to him would probably come with little consequence.

Also, note that teams are not required to extend a qualifying offer to players who sign a contract prior to July 1.

All the ECHL season-ending rosters can be found here.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Beau Erickson?

The rundown on goalie Beau Erickson:

2010-11 stats [career]: 11-12-3 record, 3.39 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in 29 games.

Quote: “Hopefully (next year I’ll play) in the American League if things work out. If not, I’d love to be back in Ontario if the situation presented itself.”

Pros: Erickson’s attitude in the midst of a bleak season was commendable. After Kellen Briggs bolted for Europe, and after not playing for two months himself, Erickson was always game despite getting little help on defense many nights. He showed enough talent that, on a better team, he probably would have won more often than he lost.

Cons: Erickson’s career numbers are nothing spectacular. In two full ECHL seasons, he has never been with one team — either as a starter or a backup — from start to finish. Jase Weslosky outplayed him toward the end of the season, when the Reign were a much better team.

Beau Erickson post-season quotes.

Three Reign players finished the season on the rosters of AHL playoffs teams: Shawn Germain, Beau Erickson and Chaz Johnson.

Germain had no idea he was headed to the Manchester Monarchs when he left Citizens Business Bank Arena for the last time, but Erickson and Johnson were already with Peoria and Manchester, respectively, when their ECHL teammates were conducting their end-of-season interviews in Ontario.

Erickson’s AHL stint didn’t last long, as Peoria was swept in the first round by the Houston Aeros, and he was the backup in all four games. With the Reign, Erickson was thrust into the number-one goalie role after Kellen Briggs abruptly left for Germany in January. That wasn’t easy, but Erickson made the most of it. After losing his first five starts, he went 11-7-1-2 to finish the season.

It would be hard to invent a more fan-friendly athlete than a tobacco-chewing goalie from Iowa. Here’s what this one had to say Monday:
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Johnson released by Manchester.

An update from the AHL, where the number of Reign players on playoff rosters dropped by one Tuesday.

The Manchester Monarchs released Chaz Johnson just two days before their first-round series with the Binghamton Senators — Johnson’s last AHL employer — was scheduled to begin. Johnson appeared in four games with the Monarchs, skating as a bottom-six right wing, collecting two penalty minutes and no points in four games.

Still dotting AHL rosters are Dwight King, Bud Holloway, Jordan Nolan, Patrick Mullen, Jordan Hill, Martin Jones and Jeff Zatkoff (Manchester); Beau Erickson (Peoria); Geoff Walker (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton); Andrew Martens (Lake Erie) and Colten Teubert (Oklahoma City).

Including Jon Rheault, who ended the season with the Abbotsford Heat (who didn’t make the Calder Cup playoffs), that’s 12 former Reign players who ended the regular season at the next level.

Idaho 6, Reign 4.

No more than an hour has passed since the end of the Reign’s 2010-11 season, and already the dasher-board advertisements have been removed from CBBA, the benches have been broken down, and the sold-out seats sit empty.

If six months of hockey just ended within the last hour here, you could have fooled me.

Indeed, the Reign ushered in their summer break with a 6-4 loss that didn’t lend itself to any game-as-microcosm-of-season metaphors.

They started hot, leading 2-0 after three minutes, 3-1 after 11 minutes, and 3-2 after 20. Maybe the ice was tilted east tonight, because Idaho scored three goals in 8:24 to start the second period, taking a 5-3 lead and chasing starting goalie Beau Erickson (15 saves). Jase Weslosky performed very well in relief, stopping 19 of 20 shots, but it was too late. The scoring chances were close to even in the third period, but the Reign just didn’t convert as many as their opponent.

Michael Pelech, Justin Taylor, Alex Bourret and C.J. Stretch scored the goals. Stretch had an assist and a (very quick) fight, too, recording a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

I’ll save a recap of the season, and all its foibles, for the Reign’s usual perch on page 2 of Tuesday’s sports section. There will be an end-of-season team banquet tomorrow, before the players meet with Karl Taylor on Monday for one last meeting and to gather their stuff.

Here are some end-of-the season notes:
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