… Chris Carrozzi.
Who, you might ask?
Carrozzi is a Winnipeg Jets prospect and a 2008 sixth-round draft pick (154th overall) of the former Atlanta Thrashers. He was assigned to the Colorado Eagles to start the season but wasn’t getting much playing time, appearing in only one of the Eagles’ first 17 games. Coincidentally, that game was a 6-2 victory by the Reign in Colorado on Nov. 5.
Reign coach Jason Christie said that the Jets will assign Carrozzi to Ontario and Dustin Carlson will back him up against the Stockton Thunder. Jean-Francois Berube remains sidelined by an upper-body injury and did not practice Tuesday; Christie said that Berube will resume skating tomorrow.
Not much stands out about Carrozzi on the surface. The 21-year-old was stuck with a 6.00 goals-against average in his only appearance this season. Last season, he backstopped 47 games for the Gwinnett Gladiators, going 16-20-2-4 with a 3.23 GAA, which ranked 21st in the league.
But considering the Gladiators missed the playoffs altogether, Carrozzi’s 2010-11 numbers — which included two shutouts — aren’t awful. His junior career with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors culminated with OHL Goaltender of the Year Honors in 2009-10, after a 19-10-5/2.36/.916 season. Carrozzi signed his entry-level contract with the Thrashers after that season.
The Minnesota Wild have re-assigned Darcy Kuemper to the Houston Aeros, their American Hockey League affiliate. It’s the second promotion for the rookie goalie this season, who spent one weekend with the NHL club but did not play.
Kuemper is leading the ECHL in goals-against average (1.74) and save percentage (.941) while going 7-1-0, accounting for all but two of the Reign’s nine wins.
While his first promotion was brief, Kuemper could be up for a while longer this time. According to a report on the Finnish website iltalehti.fi, the Aeros are losing their backup goalie, Dennis Endras, to HIFK of the Finnish League. Endras had been backing up Matt Hackett. The Aeros are planning to issue an official release tomorrow.
The Reign host the Stockton Thunder on Wednesday. Goalies Jean-Francois Berube and Dustin Carlson remain on the active roster, though Berube missed two games against the Bakersfield Condors over the weekend with an “upper-body injury.” The injury is not believed to be a concussion, and coach Jason Christie said that Berube is day-to-day.
More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
Four folding chairs sat in a row leading into the Reign locker room Tuesday, the makeshift “lockers” painting a plain picture that space was suddenly at a premium.
Locker-room space, of course, relates directly to salary-cap space and roster space, and that meant Dustin Carlson’s stay as the Reign’s third goalie ended Tuesday. Carlson was released in advance of tonight’s game against the Stockton Thunder, in which Darcy Kuemper is expected to start and J-F Berube to back up.
“Practice time is huge, and it’s tough having three goaltenders,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “Sometimes you have to adjust. We’re getting players healthy here, so it comes down to cap space and having guys active. That’s the reality we’re looking at.”
Carlson went 0-1 with a 4.16 goals-against average and a .857 save percentage in two appearances this season. Both appearances came last weekend in Alaska, coming off the bench after the Aces had a big first period against Berube and the Reign.
A longshot to make the team after joining camp on a tryout, Carlson was retained as an unofficial emergency backup in case of injury or promotion to Berube or Darcy Kuemper. The Wild recalled Kuemper to the NHL last weekend, giving Carlson his lone, brief opportunity in the crease before Kuemper returned to Ontario (more on that in a future blog).
So who are the injured players and when will they come back? The latest updates, ranked by this beat writer’s predicted order of return (soonest to farthest away):
Chris Huxley was the co-captain at Harvard University last year. He played on the Crimson’s top defensive pair with a recent NHL draft pick, Danny Biega. He once was presented an academic/athletic excellence award (the John Carlton Memorial Award) by former Boston Bruin Johnny Bucyk.
Now, he’s just a number. Number 16 in the line of defensemen who have been under contract to the Reign since July 1, and number (TBA) in your program tomorrow night against the Stockton Thunder.
“He’s one of those durable guys that can come in and have a little offensive side to him,” coach Jason Christie said. “He’s a competitor.”
Huxley will give the Reign six defensemen — three full pairs — for the first (and only) time since the opening weekend of the regular season. Pat Bowen isn’t ready to be rushed into game action and Philippe Seydoux still doesn’t have his P-1 (work) visa. Christie hopes both players will be ready to go by next week.
A few more notes:
The Reign took one step toward the awaited resolution of their unusual four-goalie situation Wednesday, releasing Jase Weslosky from his contract. Weslosky started the Reign’s preseason opener and made 28 saves in a 4-2 loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers. He was the backup to J-F Berube for the first regular-season game, but never saw the ice again.
Weslosky, 22, came to the Reign last March in the trade that sent Dusty Collins to the Florida Everblades. He went 2-1-0 in four appearances with a 2.00 GAA and a .943 save percentage before being sidelined by a lower-body injury. Weslosky started last season in Idaho, played 20 games for the Steelheads, and finished with a combined 9-7-3 record, 2.79 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
Once healthy, Weslosky re-signed with the Reign in July, when Karl Taylor was still the coach. He was one of three goalies, along with J-F Berube and Dustin Carlson, who made the opening-day roster. Coach Jason Christie elected to keep all three on the roster after the Minnesota Wild assigned Darcy Kuemper to Ontario prior to the second game of the season. Carlson is still on the team but Christie stated his desire last week to find a new address for both Carlson and Weslosky; it seems as if Weslosky will get to find his next team on his own.
One other procedural move Wednesday: Jordan Morrison was suspended. The Reign will retain his ECHL rights while he heads off to Austria.
Beau Erickson thought his job was more safe than it actually was. That’s the ultimate reason for the candid war of words waged Wednesday by the former Reign goalie against coach Jason Christie.
From the coach’s standpoint, the story goes like this:
Christie plans on playing J-F Berube a lot. The Kings’ 2009 fourth-round draft pick is fully healthy after off-season hip surgery and is eager to begin his first pro season. When picking a backup goalie, a player who might not appear in half the games over the course of a season, saving money is a priority. This has become a universal truth in the NHL and in this regard the ECHL is sometimes no different.
Even by the standards of the ECHL, where no player earned more than $26,000 last season, Erickson didn’t make much during his 29-game stint with the Reign. But it’s safe to say he got a raise over the summer and was set to make more than either Jase Weslosky or Dustin Carlson, who have 29 games of pro experience between them. Erickson and Weslosky were both re-signed by Karl Taylor, while Carlson was brought in on a tryout by Christie.
So when I asked Christie what went into the decision to cut Erickson, here’s what he had to say:
Wednesday was more a day of ecstasy than agony at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
When Reign coach Jason Christie submitted his first roster to the ECHL, Dustin Carlson, August Aiken and Jeff MacPhee were on it. All three were in training camp on tryout contracts, longshots to get an ECHL deal, but by virtue of some combination of luck and skill, they were among the chosen few. MacPhee called it “probably one of my proudest moments in hockey.”
The lone cut was Beau Erickson as head coach Jason Christie decided to keep three goalies for now — Kings prospect J-F Berube (who took part in his first practice), Jase Weslosky and Carlson.
Erickson, who appeared in 29 games for the Reign last season, didn’t have a bad camp. The 25-year-old allowed only one goal in 30 minutes in his only preseason action Sunday in Las Vegas. His glove was plenty sharp in practice, so what gave? More on that in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
A couple more notes:
No major developments emerged from today’s training camp session. J.D. Watt took part in his first practice with the team, but center Francois Brisebois and defensemen Travis Gawryletz (both awaiting physicals) did not.
The forward trios are actually skating consistently as trios now that Jason Christie is running lots of system-oriented drills. The line of Kyle Kraemer at left wing, Jordan Morrison at center and Derek Couture at right wing has had a few days of practice to get acclimated. Given their shared inclination for scoring, we’ll tab this group as the early frontrunner for a No. 1 line in Saturday’s preseason opener.
Geoff Irwin (LW), C.J. Stretch (center) and Brady Calla (RW) have stayed together for a couple days now, too. That group could be another potential keeper.
Wednesday’s other lines:
Chris Cloud-August Aiken-J.D. Watt
Shayne Neigum-Bill Bagron-Dean Yakura/Kyle Reed.
Some more notes:
Forwards Kyle Reed and Dean Yakura, and goalie Dustin Carlson, have been invited to participate in training camp with the Reign on pro tryout contracts.
All three had brief stints last season with the Idaho Steelheads.
Reed and Carlson both completed four-year careers at Ohio State last season, then made their pro debuts with the Steelheads at the end of the season. Reed, a left wing, had one assist and a minus-3 rating in four games. Carlson went 0-3-1 with a 3.25 goals-against average and an .872 save percentage in five games. Neither appeared in a playoff game for Idaho.
Yakura, 26, split last season between the Pensacola Ice Wings of the Southern Professional Hockey League (20 games, five goals, nine points) and the Steelheads (five games, one goal). Prior to turning pro, Yakura spent four years with the illustrious American International College program in Bridgeport, CT.
Three other players were invited from the team’s open free agent tryout last Friday and Saturday: forward Andrew Monesi of Simi Valley, forward August Aiken of Whittier and goalie Darren Yount of Alta Loma.