Collins to Manitoba, and other notes from practice.

For a player who spent all of last season, and most of the season before, in the American Hockey League, Dusty Collins’ time with the Reign certainly figured to be on loan.

The center officially got word Sunday that he’s heading back to the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, leaving the Reign without one of their top defensive forwards and faceoff-circle experts.

“Dusty played there for two years. They know him well. It’s not like he’s going in on a tryout — they know what they’re getting,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said.

The Moose have four games this week — Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — all at home. It could be that the Moose merely needed an extra body and called on a familiar name, or Collins could be in Winnipeg for a longer haul. Regardless, expect him to be gone at least a week.

Plenty more from Monday’s practice in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

All six defensemen on the active roster were skating, and Luke Beaverson took part in his second full-contact practice (but the first in which he engaged in any significant contact).

Without Collins, here’s how the forwards skated:

Alex Bourret – Jordan Morrison – Shawn Collymore
Brett O’Malley – C.J. Stretch – Chaz Johnson
Justin Taylor – Michael Pelech – Aaron Lewadniuk
James McEwan – Kyle Kraemer

Reign 2, Las Vegas 1.

Dusty Collins scored his second game-winning goal in as many games this week, lifting the Reign to back-to-back wins for the first time in five weeks.

Shawn Collymore also scored for the Reign, who took advantage of a strong penalty kill (5-for-5) and a strong night in the faceoff circle to hold the Wranglers to 29 shots on goal. Beau Erickson (2-5-0) made 28 saves, including eight during a first-period two-man advantage for Las Vegas.

The Wranglers’ only goal was a short-handed marker by Greg Collins at 13:00 of the second period. Dusty Collins answered with the game-winner 37 seconds later.

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

Reign 3, Alaska 2.

Print out the scoresheet and frame it: The Reign won at home.

Dusty Collins’ short-handed goal at 5:46 of the third period served as the game-winner, new defenseman Jason Fredricks got the game-tying goal on a lucky bounce off the boards, and C.J. Stretch scored on the Reign’s first shot of the game.

That allowed a strong 34-save effort by Beau Erickson to hold up before an announced crowd of 6,433.

Alaska saw its streak of 11 games with a point, including 10 wins in those 11 games, come to an end.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin, including Karl Taylor’s thoughts on the rare illegal-hit-to-the-head penalty that got Chaz Johnson ejected from the game in the first period.

Bakersfield 4, Reign 3.

Wednesday’s crowd was the smallest of the season for a home game – 4,670 – but fans weren’t booing. Until the third period, they had little reason to.

The Reign lost in regulation for the first time when leading after one period, and for the first time when leading after two, by surrendering three unanswered goals to the Condors in the third period.

The Condors have won 9 of 10 and showed why. They continued to pepper Beau Erickson (28 saves) even after falling behind 3-1 early in the third period when Brett O’Malley scored a rare goal during a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

The Reign killed off the rest of Bakersfield’s two-man advantage but couldn’t garner any momentum from it. The Condors continued to generate scoring chances with ease and Erickson could do little about goals by Brendan Milnamow (which was deflected en route), Evan Stoflet (on an unchallenged, short-handed breakaway) and Slava Trukhno (another deflection).

Lane Caffaro and Chaz Johnson had the other goals for the Reign, who have lost four in a row and 13 of 15 on home ice.

Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin for comments from Erickson, Caffaro and coach Karl Taylor.

Here are a few notes that won’t make the print editions:

Continue reading

Alaska 5, Reign 3.

The Reign returned to the site of arguably their greatest success this season – a three-game sweep at Sullivan Arena in November – but fell short of their fourth straight win in Alaska.

Aaron Lewadniuk’s second goal of the game, at 14:08 of the third period, forged a 3-3 tie that didn’t last long. Forty-four seconds later former NHL center Brian Swanson restored Alaska’s lead. Scott Howes’ empty-net goal with 47 seconds left in the game sealed the Reign’s second straight loss.

Lewadniuk scored 11:57 into the first period to provide a 1-0 lead and Dusty Collins’ power-play goal made it 2-1 at 9:18 of the second. That was the last time the Reign would lead.

Linemates Swanson (goal, assist) and Howes (two goals, assist) both finished plus-3 for Alaska. Kyle Kraemer had two assists and Shawn Germain had another.

Kellen Briggs stopped 31 of 35 shots for the Reign, who face the Aces at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Victoria 8, Reign 4.

The Reign’s two-game winning streak came crashing down Wednesday in Victoria, British Columbia with an 8-4 loss to the Salmon Kings. The eight goals allowed represent a season high and all were charged to goalie Kellen Briggs, who stopped 37 of 45 shots.

The Reign never led in the game but were still within striking distance after two periods, trailing 3-2 on a power-play goal by Lane Caffaro and an even-strength tally by Jeff Corey.

Yet they also failed to capitalize on a five-minute long power play late in the second, incurred when Victoria forward Rick Cleaver was charged with a major penalty for an illegal check to the head of Corey.

The floodgates opened in the third period, when Painchaud and former Reign forward Tim Kraus scored 25 seconds apart to make it 5-2. Nine seconds after Kraus’ goal, Brett O’Malley scored for the Reign to make it 5-3 at 8:44.

Reign defenseman Doug Krantz gave the Salmon Kings a 5-minute power play of their own when he was hit with a kneeing major and a game misconduct at 9:47. Victoria took advantage, getting a pair of goals to make it 7-3 before Alex Bourret answered with a short-handed goal for the Reign.

Painchaud completed the scoring with 4:38 left in the game.

The Reign (10-17-0-1) travel to Anchorage for a two-game series with the Alaska Aces beginning Friday.

Caffaro (goal, assist), O’Malley (goal), Corey (goal, assist), Pat Bowen and Dusty Collins were the only plus players for the Reign. Kyle Kraemer added an assist on Corey’s team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Rob Hennigar (four assists) and Matt Stefanishion (goal, three assists) had four-point games for Victoria, and Kraus added two assists to go along with his first goal of the season.

Reign 6, Victoria 3.

The Reign have successfully hit the “reset” button.

Kellen Briggs made 47 saves, including all 19 he faced in the third period, en route to the Reign’s second straight win. Led by Briggs, the penalty kill awoke from its long slumber to snuff out four of the Salmon Kings’ five man-advantage chances.

Ten different players recorded a point for the Reign, led by Chaz Johnson’s two-goal effort – he scored them 17 seconds apart in the second period to break a 3-3 tie. Jordan Morrison and Kyle Kraemer each had a goal and an assist; Jeff Corey and Lane Caffaro had one goal each; and Dusty Collins and David Walker both had two assists.

The Reign scored six goals for the second straight game despite getting outshot 50-28. Corey, Kraemer and Caffaro have two goals the past two games, and Johnson has three. Newcomer Alex Bourret has two assists in the three games.

Another newcomer, defenseman Doug Krantz, made his Reign debut and was held without a point. Defenseman Luke Beaverson missed his second straight game.

Former Reign center Tim Kraus was held without a point in his first game against his former team.

The two teams play again at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Victoria.

Reign 6, Las Vegas 5, OT.

For a moment there, the script seemed awfully familiar, the Reign squandering a two-goal lead to trail 5-4 midway through the third period.

What better time to reverse course, with the Christmas break behind them, two new teammates in uniform and, oh by the way, that unsightly record on home ice (2-11-0-1) they’ve been trying to get rid of all year.

Dusty Collins scored the tying goal at 13:13 of the third period, and Lane Caffaro took advantage of an overtime power play with the game-winner, lifting the Reign to a cathartic 6-5 win over the Wranglers before 6,296 at The Bank.

Pat Bowen, Kyle Kraemer, Chaz Johnson and Jeff Corey also scored for the Reign. Johnson also knocked Las Vegas starter Michael Ouzas out of the game at 7:49 of the second period, a collision that netted 17 minutes worth of penalties but brought emergency backup Archie Henderson off the bench. Henderson, who has bounced around quite a bit this season, stopped 19 of 22 in relief of Ouzas.

Kellen Briggs stopped 34 of 39 for the Reign, who welcomed former Wranglers right wing Alex Bourret (two assists) and welcomed back defenseman Shawn Germain (plus-2). The Reign scored three goals on the power play as did the Wranglers. More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

A couple more notes that won’t make the paper:
Continue reading

Injury updates, and more (!) from practice.

The Reign became four teams of four in practice Monday. Their goal: Scoring goals.

“Our whole goal today was to have a whole scoring practice,” coach Karl Taylor said. “Obviously we’ve struggled with that. That was our focus today. We were out there for an hour and 45 minutes, it was based on scoring and having some competition within it.

“We can’t complain about our defensive play, although at times it’s gotten lax and there are things we need to improve. We have to score more. That’s our number one issue. We have to try to get guys attentive to details and creating more chances.”

As they have each of the last two ECHL seasons, the Reign rank last in the league in goals per game.

Right wing Chaz Johnson, who left midway through Saturday’s game in Bakersfield, was back on the ice after suffering a recurrence of the same shoulder injury that cost him three games in November. He said he expects to play Friday.

Chad Starling (lower body) is hopeful he can come back this weekend too, but he hasn’t been cleared to practice yet. The veteran defenseman, who is eligible to come off 21-day IR on Friday, worked out off the ice.

David Walker also missed practice, taking a “maintenance day” often given to veteran players. Also off the ice were forward Jon Francisco and defenseman Eric Doyle, both of whom remain on IR.

As for the competition, the “black team” of Kyle Kraemer, Lane Caffaro, Dusty Collins and Shawn Collymore were the big winners.

Las Vegas 7, Reign 3.

The Reign’s home woes continued in the form of their ninth loss in 10 tries at The Bank.

Coming off a fight-filled, emotionally charged win Saturday in Utah, none of it translated to Wednesday’s game. Las Vegas scored three goals in the first 6:34 – two on the power play – and never looked back.

The Reign got the game as close as 5-3 late in the third period, but Vegas killed two Reign power plays and scored twice late to turn the game into a blowout.

Dusty Collins, Jordan Morrison and Chaz Johnson scored for the Reign, who put only 15 shots on Michael Ouzas – one off their season low. Kellen Briggs allowed all seven goals on 26 Wranglers shots, but could share the blame for all seven.

Las Vegas was missing its leading scorer, Ned Lukacevic, who had flu-like symptoms.

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