Reign make final cuts, set opening-day roster

Forwards Joel Irving, Tyler Mugford and Doug Spooner, and defenseman Cameron Cepek, became the Reign’s final training camp cuts Wednesday when the opening-day roster was submitted to the ECHL

Forwards Tony Voce (7-day), Todd Jackson (21-day) and Robert Pearce (21-day), and defenseman Dan Knapp (3-day), will begin the season on injured reserve.
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Reign at Las Vegas, 7 p.m. tonight. Update.

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.

That said, here they are:
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Reign camp notes, Day 1.

Here are some quick hits from this morning’s practice at Center Ice Arena. Look for more in tomorrow’s editions …

– The returning players we spotted on the ice: Jon Francisco, Jon Rheault, Todd Jackson, Mike Howe, Tim Kraus, Doug Spooner, Chris Curran, Shawn Germain, Chad Starling, Andrew Martens and David Walker.

– Twenty-three players were on the ice in total, including Curran, who doesn’t look like he’s been cleared for contact. Tony Voce, who spent the past two seasons in Europe following a promising start in the AHL, is also under contract but in an AHL camp. Geoff Walker is still in Manchester. Another three players were held out due to various injuries.

– Generally speaking, the team is bigger and in better shape than it was a year ago. All the returning players seem physically trim; combine that with a few haircuts (notably Chad Starling, Shawn Germain and Doug Spooner), and this is a team that should be flying up and down the ice.

– Huntington Beach native Cameron Cepek, a defenseman who was selected in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL draft by Montreal, was a late roster addition.

– The team has a full day of off-ice events planned for Saturday, including some time at the beach and at the Kings’ game against the Phoenix Coyotes.