Walker’s streak could end, more from morning skate.

David Walker’s ironman streak looks like it will end tonight against the Idaho Steelheads.

“If I were a betting man,” he said, “I’d say yes.”

The captain skated on his own for about five minutes prior to the team’s morning skate, but reported afterward that his lower-body injury was still “a little tender.”

Walker, the only Reign player who has appeared in all 54 games this season, said that the injury is a recurring one that finally caught up to him.

“It’s just the buildup of one of the lower-body injuries that hadn’t gotten to this point until now,” he said. “You try to force yourself (to play), even with bumps and bruises.”

Walker could be replaced in the lineup by Jordan Hill, who is eligible to come off IR and took part in the full morning skate. Hill has missed the last seven games with a leg injury he suffered Feb. 9 against Stockton. The Reign could also skate five defensemen, a tactic that Karl Taylor hasn’t been afraid to employ recently.

The Reign have leaned heavily on Walker this season. He leads the team in assists (25) and game-winning goals (3), is second in shots (118), third in points (30) and penalty minutes (100), and tied for fourth in power-play goals (4). Minutes per game aren’t recorded by the ECHL, but it’s a safe bet that Walker would lead the team in that category, too.

Forward Brett O’Malley (lower body) also took part in the morning skate. Alex Bourret (head) did not.

Mike Zacharias is expected to get his second straight start in goal.

One other note: 10 days after leaving Ontario, the Elmira Jackals fired head coach Malcolm Cameron. The Jackals have three wins in their last 16 games despite a roster laden with NHL prospects from the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators. General manager Robbie Nichols, interviewed here by a local TV station, will take over. Here’s the official release on ECHL.com.

(One reason) why the Reign don’t score a lot, and Elmira does.

There’s a method to the high-scoring madness in the Eastern Conference.

First, the numbers: The seven highest-scoring ECHL teams play in the East, led by last weekend’s opponent, the Elmira Jackals, with 3.65 goals per game.

A number that seems unrelated, at a glance, is 51. That’s how many players (including goalies) have appeared in an Elmira uniform this season.

What’s the connection?
Continue reading

Elmira 3, Reign 1.

All good things – like winning streaks and interconference series – must come to an end.

Clearly tired at the end of their third game in three nights, and fourth in five days, the Reign sputtered to a 3-1 loss in their series finale against Elmira. The Reign started strong but managed just four shots in the third period and couldn’t convert on the power play after the first period.

The Jackals halted their four-game losing streak on the strength of two goals by Jason Bailey and another by Patrick Coulombe, who potted the game-winner during a 4-on-3 power play with 1:43 left in the third period. Bailey’s goal into an empty net with 3.2 seconds left completed the scoring.

Chaz Johnson scored the Reign’s only goal by deflecting a point shot by David Walker past TImo Pielmeier at 8:58 of the first period.

Mike Zacharias stopped 32 in one of those puzzling games for a goalie. Two fairly straightforward shots, by Bailey in the first period and Coulombe in the third, got past him. The rest of the game, facing one breakaway after another, he was perfect – strong positionally and when he needed to move laterally in the crease.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.
Continue reading

Reign 6, Elmira 5, OT.

Alex Bourret’s goal with 1:04 left in overtime gave the Reign something they’ve been waiting a long time for: Back-to-back wins at home.

Jordan Morrison completed a four-point game by corralling the rebound of a David Walker shot behind the net, then spotting Bourret streaking through the right faceoff circle for the game-winner.

That capped an impressive comeback by the Reign (17-28-2-2), who had trailed Elmira by scores of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3. Morrison, Chaz Johnson, Shawn Collymore and Kyle Kraemer also scored goals. Johnson finished plus-3 and was on the ice for all but one of the Reign’s goals.

The six-goal outburst matched a season high, and the win brought them within seven points of seventh-place Victoria (21-25-1-2) in the Western Conference standings.

Beau Erickson was fighting the puck early, but benefited from some third-period adjustments that allowed the Reign to spend more time in the offensive zone and outshoot Elmira 10-7. Erickson finished with 27 saves.

Timo Pielmeier (22 saves) started the week as the Ducks’ backup goalie, but finished on the losing end of his first game with the Jackals.

Because I didn’t mention it in the paper: The Reign were sporting vintage Forum-blue-and-gold Kings jerseys, with a crown on the front of the sweater and the Reign logo on the shoulder patch. They looked sharp.

Because they were auctioned off after the game, they won’t be worn again. And because they play in the Eastern Conference, Elmira won’t be back this season after tomorrow.

The Reign would probably like to see both the jerseys and the Jackals back.

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

Reign 5, Elmira 4, SO.

Can the Jackals visit the Inland Empire more than one weekend a year?

The first-ever interconference game at CBBA, a true contrast in coaching philosophies and playing styles, needed the shootout to determine a winner. It resulted in a badly needed two points for the Reign, who kept pace with the victorious Victoria Salmon Kings (2-0 over Las Vegas) to remain nine points out of seventh place.

After Andrew Sweetland’s forehand wrister beat Beau Erickson in the second round, Jordan Morrison answered on the next shot by waiting out Garrett Zemlak with a high forehand wrister. In the fifth and final round, Justin Taylor reached around Zemlak’s back leg to put the Reign ahead for good. Erickson denied A.J. Perry on the other end to seal the win – the Reign’s second in the shootout this season.

Chaz Johnson scored two goals against the team he played for from 2007-10, Shawn Collymore scored a pair of goals, and Morrison added three assists.

It was a gutsy performance from Taylor, who didn’t play the entire second period after being leveled to the ice on a clean shoulder-to-shoulder check into the boards late in the first. He looked especially slow on his skates in the third period compared to a fast, fast Elmira team, but speed was not needed in the shootout. Just the long reach.

More game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin. A few more notes:
Continue reading

Petizian switches hallways, and what it’s like on the other side.

It’s been more than a month since Alex Petizian played his only game in a Reign uniform, and came up on the short end of a 5-1 loss to the Utah Grizzlies at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Jan. 8.

The goaltender will play his next game at CBBA tonight as a member of the Elmira Jackals.

The Reign traded Petizian to the visiting team this morning, something that Karl Taylor said he’d never done in five and a half seasons coaching in the ECHL.

“It’s a chance for Alex to play,” Taylor said. “We felt our other two guys (Beau Erickson and Mike Zacharias) are better for us right now.”

Petizian isn’t complaining. The rookie out of St. Lawrence University got dressed in the Reign’s locker room, was called into Taylor’s office, then was informed of the trade and walked down the hallway to the visitor’s locker room to join his new team.

Considering his only experience this season consists of parts three games in five months, Petizian welcomed the opportunity.

“It’s good news,” he said. “It’s definitely been tough. Practicing isn’t like being in games consistently. It’s been hard getting into a groove this year.”

Continue reading

Updates on Hill, O’Malley, Erickson’s new mask, and awaiting Elmira.

Jordan Hill was off the ice Thursday, one day after the defenseman suffered a leg injury in the third period of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Stockton. He was still waiting on the results of x-rays after the morning practice, but said he doesn’t think he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. Karl Taylor neither confirmed nor denied.

“I hit the guy hard, and he fell back,” Hill said. “He landed on my leg.”

If the x-rays come back negative, Hill wouldn’t rule out playing Saturday or Sunday against the Elmira Jackals.

Elmira will be a bit of an enigma. Chaz Johnson played the last two years with the Jackals, but said he knows only two players on the current team – R.J. Anderson and Justin Donati. So obviously there’s been a lot of turnover.

Fortunately, Karl Taylor said he’s done video scouting on four Jackals games this season, and David Walker played under their head coach, Malcolm Cameron, for three seasons in Long Beach. More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin on what they’re expecting.

Brett O’Malley, meanwhile, revealed that he needed 12 stitches to close a wound in his lip when he was struck by a puck in the third period Saturday. As for his teeth, O’Malley said that one shattered into four pieces, “two teeth were just hanging in there,” and three were recovered on the ice. He’ll wear a wire to protect his teeth for six weeks, and will wear a full plastic face shield indefinitely.

Last but not least, after the jump, check out Beau Erickson’s new mask. It arrived this week, and the goalie was justifiably impressed with the handiwork of his Toronto-area designer. To my knowledge, he’s the first Reign goalie with a Reign-themed mask:
Continue reading