The Reign traded the rights to defenseman Mike Montgomery to the Reading Royals for left wing Everett Sheen on Tuesday. While coach Jason Christie hasn’t done too much wheeling and dealing the past couple months, perhaps the only question is why this move (or something similar) didn’t happen sooner.
Montgomery, who has been on loan to the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros all month, had one goal and one assist in 27 games with the Reign. The 25-year-old rookie has played 10 games in the AHL during three separate stints (two with Houston, one with St. John’s). Six of those games have come during the last two weeks, and it could be that Montgomery is becoming an established piece of the Aeros’ blue-line corps.
That’s a little ironic, since Montgomery was skating at forward for the Reign just prior to his February promotion.
Ever since Christie lured defensemen Alan Mazur from England, and Mike Gabinet from temporary retirement, both players have been productive. That’s left little room for Montgomery, Jason Fredricks and lately Pat Bowen to play their natural position. Mazur and Gabinet also have more experience than Montgomery, a quality Christie was looking to add to a young roster. As responsible as Montgomery is — both with and without the puck — he simply wasn’t needed anymore. The Royals can deal with the question of if and when Montgomery will come back from Houston.
The Reign had a full week off since their last game and the practice seemed to pay off. They never trailed in their 4-2 win Friday, getting goals from Steven Tarasuk, C.J. Stretch, Matt Tassone and Francois Brisebois. Darcy Kuemper allowed a pair of breakaway goals to Ian O’Connor but made all the routine saves, and one amazing save in the final minute, among his 21 stops.
The power play finished 2-for-4 on the goals by Tarasuk and Stretch — the first goal of the year for both players — after going 2-for-22 to start the season. Dylan Yeo had two assists and Tassone, Tarasuk, Brisebois, Stretch, Brady Calla and Chris Huxley (making his Reign debut) had one assist each. Huxley was paired with Vincent LoVerde and both defensemen finished plus-2 for the game.
Christie had words of praise for Huxley, as well as a strong overall forechecking effort that stifled Stockton at even strength.
Derek Couture fought Garet Hunt in the first period (advantage: Couture), Shayne Neigum fought O’Connor in the second period (advantage: O’Connor), and Stretch nearly came to blows with Jordan Fulton late in the first period. A scrum just after the final horn sounded was broken up before it could fully materialize.
Brady Calla, 23, is entering his fourth professional season. A former third-round draft pick by the Florida Panthers, he posted seven goals and 23 points in 35 ECHL games last season with the Cincinnati Cyclones.
The 6-foot-1 right wing also has 64 games of experience at the AHL level, all with the Rochester Americans, logging five goals and 10 points.
Shayne Neigum is listed as 5-11 and 185 pounds, but that didn’t stop him from engaging in 47 fights over the last four seasons in the Western Hockey League, according to the website hockeyfights.com.
The 21-year-old left wing also had 11 goals in 2010-11, his final junior season, split between the Regina Pats and the Kamloops Blazers. Neigum also played eight regular-season games for the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the end of last season.
A total of 18 skaters and four goalies were on the ice Friday morning. That doesn’t include defenseman Chad Starling, who said he might be held up at least a week due to an immigration issue. Adrian van de Mosselaer is battling illness and will be held off the ice until he’s well. That left the Reign with just four defensemen.
An intrasquad scrimmage is scheduled for 4 p.m.
One more note: Forward Peter Lenes, a fan favorite when he played here two years ago, was added to the Trenton Devils’ training camp roster today.