Friday’s 9-8 shootout win over the Colorado Eagles was a momentous one for the Reign.
It clinched the team’s first playoff berth since the inaugural 2008-09 season with a full 18 games left in the regular season. It pulled the team within two points of first place. It set a season-high in goals scored and allowed several players to pad their stats and streaks:
• Kyle Kraemer (two goals, assist) has assists in six straight games and points in 13 straight – both the second-longest active streaks in the ECHL.
• Everett Sheen (goal, two assists) has goals in four straight games, which matches the longest active streak in the ECHL.
• Tristan King (three assists), Derek Couture (three assists), Alan Mazur (three assists) and Chris Huxley (goal, two assists) all had three-point games.
But let’s also not forget this light moment, the one that earned Eagles coach Chris Stewart a game misconduct in the second period:
It’s the kind of only-in-minor-league-hockey clip that tends to gain traction on the internets. It might even get the touch of gold that is a SportsCenter plug.
Here’s how a 3-1 lead turns into a 4-3 overtime loss:
1. A short pass goes off a Reign stick and onto a Colorado stick. Shot, goal. 2. A hard pass goes off a Reign skate (possibly a body) and into the net. 3. An ill-timed line change results in an odd-man rush the other way for Colorado. A long, high shot — the Eagles’ only shot of overtime — goes into the top of the net.
Plenty of bad luck was involved in the final outcome, but it’s easier to say the Reign squandered a point Saturday than gained one. Leading 3-1 going into the third period, Colorado converted back-to-back power plays on a pair of good bounces to tie the game at 3. Luck aside, the same stifling defense that the Reign used in the first two periods (and in Friday’s win over Stockton) was conspicuously absent from the third period Saturday.
“We’re not stepping into the shot. Sticks weren’t into the lanes,” head coach Jason Christie said when talking about the overtime goal, but he may as well have been discussing the third period too.
Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. The Reign will visit the scrappy first-year ECHL franchise Friday and Saturday in Colorado, their first back-to-back road games of the season.
The ECHL announced Tuesday that its Board of Governors has approved the expansion membership application of the Colorado Eagles, bringing the league to 20 teams for next season.
Colorado plays its home games at the Budweiser Events Center, a 5,289-seat building located in Loveland, Colorado that opened in 2003. Colorado has been a member of the Central Hockey League since the 2003-04 season, and has sold out every regular season and playoff game in team history. According to the ECHL’s official release, the team’s 311 consecutive sellouts is an all-time record for minor league professional hockey.
“We are pleased to welcome the Colorado Eagles to the ECHL,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said in a statement. “The Eagles strong fan support, community involvement and history of on-ice success make them an excellent addition to our Western Conference. Team ownership and management have built an exceptional brand and business organization over the past decade. We are proud to have them as the newest Member of the ECHL.”
News of Colorado’s potential addition has been circulating the rumor mill for more than a month. The ECHL’s release did not indicate which division the Eagles will play in, but it would make sense for them to replace Victoria in a four-team Mountain Division with Alaska, Idaho and Utah.