Forwards Brian Matte and Dan Leslie were released Monday morning, trimming the Reign’s training camp roster to 25.
“We have lots of guys that we feel are obviously better than them, that’s why we released them,” coach Karl Taylor said. “It’s hard when you get released or you don’t make a team, or you don’t get picked for something, you feel like it’s your own fault. There is some ownership there, but we have pretty high-level players in camp this year.
“Both those guys would probably have made our team last year.”
Matte appeared in the Reign’s preseason opener Thursday night in Las Vegas, while Leslie’s only game action came a night later at Center Ice Arena. Both were kept off the scoresheet. Neither Matte, 21, nor Leslie, 23, have played in the ECHL before.
As with any sport, the value of an ECHL preseason game lies less in getting a win as much as assessing the team’s talent, deciding who to keep and who to cut.
“We’ll try to get everybody in and if not, oh well. That’s life,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said.
In a way, this is an even more delicate exercise in the ECHL, with so much turnover from year to year (although the Reign have a particularly high retention rate — 12 of the 30 players who appeared in a game last season are back). But for more than half of his 27 players, Karl Taylor has no frame of reference for how they’ll execute for him in a game. On the other hand, there can be as much turnover during the ECHL season as the off-season because of AHL recalls, injuries, trades, and the occasional roster cut. Maybe none of the players on tonight’s roster will make it through to the end of the season in Ontario.