Chaz Johnson comments on Simon Ferguson incident.

Two days after Utah Grizzlies forward Simon Ferguson used the “N-word” in a verbal altercation with Reign forward Chaz Johnson on Saturday, Reign coach Karl Taylor addressed the situation again in a team meeting prior to the team’s off-ice workout Monday.

Besides the vile and derogatory nature of the word itself, it’s an explosive situation for a few reasons.

To say Johnson lost his cool in the moment would be an understatement; he tried to leave the Reign bench and climb onto the Utah bench to retaliate against Ferguson, who was standing a few feet away from Johnson during the argument but then walked away after using the racial slur. Johnson had to be restrained by teammates and leave the game.

“To give me an opportunity to get back into the game, and line up with someone who just said that to me, I don’t think it would have been a fight,” Johnson said. “I think it would have been more than that, and probably my other type of sense level would have probably kicked in. Something probably would have happened that would have ended my hockey career. I think it was better to take myself out and let myself calm down.”

Neither Taylor nor any player I spoke to for the story (including Shawn Collymore, whose father is black), had heard the word used in a professional hockey game. As James McEwan said, “it’s tough to know what to do after that.”

The Reign’s enforcer did what he felt was his job. He told Ferguson they were going to fight in the second period, then punched the Utah forward even after Ferguson decided not to drop his gloves after being given what McEwan felt was fair warning.

It’s up to the ECHL to decide what to do next. Taylor, who has coached in the league since 2005, was not aware of a similar incident ever occurring during his time behind an ECHL bench. A Utah Grizzlies spokesperson said the league is investigating multiple incidents from the game. Any announcement of supplemental discipline should come before the Grizzlies’ next game, at home against Stockton on Wednesday.

Though the Grizzlies said Ferguson won’t comment while the league is investigating, Johnson said that he received a call from Ferguson on Sunday to apologize. Johnson also received a phone call from Reign president Justin Kemp — “just a show of support.”

McEwan said he’s known Ferguson for a few years. Both are British Columbia natives who honed their junior chops with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Check out his comments in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

I don’t often transcribe entire, long interviews word-for-word, but here were my questions for Johnson and his answers:
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Idaho 4, Reign 3, SO.

The Reign played more in character with the team that entered the weekend on a 6-3-1 run than the team that lost 7-2 a night earlier.

It still wasn’t enough. Idaho pulled out the win in the skills competition (they went 2-for-3; the Reign went 0-for-4) and scored in the closing minutes of the first and third period to pull out the shootout victory.

Alex Bourret, Jordan Hill and Chaz Johnson scored, and Zacharias stopped 33 shots between regulation and overtime. David Walker missed the game with a lower-body injury, and forward Justin Taylor left midway through the game due to an undisclosed injury. Considering the Reign also played without regulars Shawn Collymore and Brett O’Malley, it was a gutty and well-deserved point in the standings.

But will it be enough? The Victoria Salmon Kings won the shootout, pulling nine points ahead of the Reign in the standings with 15 games to play.

The Stockton Thunder visit at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Idaho 7, Reign 2.

Here are the season totals for Aki Seitsonen, Geoff Irwin and Bear Trapp before Friday:

Seistonen: 8 goals, 11 assists, minus-10
Irwin: 9 goals, 5 assists, minus-3
Trapp: 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-1, 1 sweet name.

Not exactly eye-popping statistics. But put together, the trio were the primary beneficiaries of a lackadaisical effort by the Reign. Their totals Friday:

Seitsonen: 2 goals, 3 assists, plus-4
Irwin: 1 goal, 3 assists, plus-4
Trapp: 1 goal, 1 assist, plus-4, 1 fight.

The net result of their efforts was the Reign’s most lopsided loss since Jan. 21. Just when you thought they were turning a corner …

Here’s how Karl Taylor broke it down: “I thought we had a good first period. They got the late goal on a mental letdown there. We shouldn’t have given up that opportunity. It was 4-2 going into the third, we weren’t playing the way we needed to. They played better, but off the rush we gave them too many odd-man looks. In the third period it got away from us obviously.”

The Reign fell to eight points behind Victoria in the Western Conference standings with 16 games to go. Grabbing a playoff spot still isn’t impossible, but with any more games like Friday’s, they won’t deserve it.

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

A couple notes that didn’t make the paper:
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Reign 4, Idaho 3.

The Reign’s 3-2 deficit in third period wasn’t too much to overcome on Wednesday, and they can only hope their six-point deficit in the standings isn’t too large, either.

Clearly, the Reign are a team in the mood for comebacks. Jordan Morrison’s goal with 4:50 left in the third period, and an overtime goal by Kyle Kraemer, lifted them to a 4-3 win over Idaho before an announced crowd of 6,644 at CBBA. Mike Zacharias (10-11-3-3) stopped 36 of 39 shots to win his second straight start.

Kraemer also scored a power-play goal in the first period and Justin Taylor scored at 7:25 of the second to give the Reign a 2-0 lead. Idaho went ahead on unanswered goals by Cody Purves, Mark Derlago and Junior Lessard.

The Reign went 2-for-3 on the power play and also killed off a pair of third-period power plays after Purves scored on the Steelheads’ first man-advantage shift of the game.

The Victoria Salmon Kings (24-27-1-2, 51 points) still hold the seventh and final playoff position in the Western Conference, six points ahead of the Reign (20-30-2-3, 45 points). The Salmon Kings have one game in hand, but the pressure is on them now to beat Utah in their next game Friday.

A few more notes:
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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:
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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:

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Reign 2, Stockton 1, OT.

David Walker’s backdoor goal 2:01 into overtime lifted the Reign to a victory in a strange game at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Shawn Collymore had the Reign’s other goal – at least, he was credited with the goal by the official scorer – and Beau Erickson had some highlight-reel saves in a solid 29-save performance.

Even the one goal he allowed, to Fraser Clair at 12:22 of the third period, was controversial.

As Erickson described it: “It was a 4-on-2 coming my way. I think Freddy (Jason Fredricks) went down to block it. It went off him and it came to me, bouncing, kind of like the play before. It bounced off and it went off my pad. As I was watching, the net looked like it was off. It went inside the net. They called it a goal.”

The officials had a lengthy discussion at the scorer’s table, and a conference with the off-ice official standing behind the goal, but there wasn’t enough to change the initial ruling of a good goal.

Some more oddities from tonight’s game:
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Elmira 3, Reign 1.

All good things – like winning streaks and interconference series – must come to an end.

Clearly tired at the end of their third game in three nights, and fourth in five days, the Reign sputtered to a 3-1 loss in their series finale against Elmira. The Reign started strong but managed just four shots in the third period and couldn’t convert on the power play after the first period.

The Jackals halted their four-game losing streak on the strength of two goals by Jason Bailey and another by Patrick Coulombe, who potted the game-winner during a 4-on-3 power play with 1:43 left in the third period. Bailey’s goal into an empty net with 3.2 seconds left completed the scoring.

Chaz Johnson scored the Reign’s only goal by deflecting a point shot by David Walker past TImo Pielmeier at 8:58 of the first period.

Mike Zacharias stopped 32 in one of those puzzling games for a goalie. Two fairly straightforward shots, by Bailey in the first period and Coulombe in the third, got past him. The rest of the game, facing one breakaway after another, he was perfect – strong positionally and when he needed to move laterally in the crease.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.
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Reign 6, Elmira 5, OT.

Alex Bourret’s goal with 1:04 left in overtime gave the Reign something they’ve been waiting a long time for: Back-to-back wins at home.

Jordan Morrison completed a four-point game by corralling the rebound of a David Walker shot behind the net, then spotting Bourret streaking through the right faceoff circle for the game-winner.

That capped an impressive comeback by the Reign (17-28-2-2), who had trailed Elmira by scores of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3. Morrison, Chaz Johnson, Shawn Collymore and Kyle Kraemer also scored goals. Johnson finished plus-3 and was on the ice for all but one of the Reign’s goals.

The six-goal outburst matched a season high, and the win brought them within seven points of seventh-place Victoria (21-25-1-2) in the Western Conference standings.

Beau Erickson was fighting the puck early, but benefited from some third-period adjustments that allowed the Reign to spend more time in the offensive zone and outshoot Elmira 10-7. Erickson finished with 27 saves.

Timo Pielmeier (22 saves) started the week as the Ducks’ backup goalie, but finished on the losing end of his first game with the Jackals.

Because I didn’t mention it in the paper: The Reign were sporting vintage Forum-blue-and-gold Kings jerseys, with a crown on the front of the sweater and the Reign logo on the shoulder patch. They looked sharp.

Because they were auctioned off after the game, they won’t be worn again. And because they play in the Eastern Conference, Elmira won’t be back this season after tomorrow.

The Reign would probably like to see both the jerseys and the Jackals back.

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