Kellen Briggs stopped all 40 shots he faced and the Reign got two goals from defenseman David Walker, one each from new linemates Kyle Kraemer and Tim Kraus. The win evens the Reign’s preseason record at 1-1, having lost 6-2 the night before in Stockton.
Garrett Zemlak sat out the game on the bench, and Mike Zacharias didn’t get in either game at all, but Karl Taylor said he hasn’t made a decision yet on who will back up Martin Jones.
More on that and the rest of the game in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
The Reign fell in their preseason opener Friday, 6-2 to the Stockton Thunder at Stockton Arena.
Kyle Kraemer and Eric Doyle scored goals, and Martin Jones played all 60 minutes in net, stopping 24 of 30 shots.
Kraemer’s tally evened the game at 1 in the first period with the teams skating 4-on-4; defensemen Reggie Traccitto and Chad Starling notched the assists. Doyle brought the score to 5-2 with his power-pay goal at 11:27 of the third period; fellow rookie forward C.J. Stretch got the lone assist.
Jones, a Kings prospect, was in net for all six goals in his ECHL debut. Kellen Briggs served as the backup but did not make an appearance. Who Karl Taylor plays in goal tonight will be instrumental in determining who makes the opening-day roster along with Jones. Mike Zacharias and Garrett Zemlak are also vying with Briggs for one open spot.
The two teams play again at 6 p.m. tonight at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign’s goalie trio of Kellen Briggs, Mike Zacharias and Garrett Zemlak seems
likely to become a quartet soon.
When Kings goalie Erik Ersberg cleared waivers and was
assigned to AHL affiliate Manchester on Tuesday, Ersberg was poised to join
Jeff Zatkoff and rookie Martin Jones on the Monarchs’ roster.
There’s only room for two goalies, so I asked Kings
assistant general manager Ron Hextall about the situation. A former NHL goalie
himself, Hextall also serves as the Monarchs’ general manager.
“If everything goes as planned — we’ve got some things to
talk about — Erik would be (in Manchester), one of the young guys would be
there, and we’d be looking to assign one guy to Ontario. That’s the initial
plan,” he said.
Back from the Reign’s afternoon practice at Center Ice Arena, where there were some fairly tired hockey players.
Taylor said the players were on exercise bikes for an hour prior to the practice. “The guys were tired when we got here. We went really hard.” In spite of that, Taylor said, “the guys had lots of pace, lots of energy. I really like what we did. We got our systems started. Lots of work to do, then just decided we needed to shut it down.”
The goalies got more work today than on Friday, as Garrett Zemlak, Mike Zacharias and Kellen Briggs faced plenty of point-blank, one-on-one chances toward the end of practice. “It shows them that we care,” coach Karl Taylor said, “and it’s also to help them.”
I caught up with the three open-tryout invitees — Josh Newton, Gabriel Andre and Mike Thomson — and will have a story about them in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
There were no new players in practice today — just the same 15 skaters and three goalies as yesterday — as all the absent signed players lived to see another day in American Hockey League camps.
Meanwhile up in Edmonton, Jon Rheault scored for the Calgary Flames in a 5-1 win over the Oilers. Rheault started the game on a line with former Kings enforcer Raitis Ivanans, which if anything means the Calgary staff is serious about possibly keeping him on as a fourth-line winger.
Hold on to those Jon Rheault memories. He won’t be making any new ones here this season.
On the same day the Reign announced that goaltender Mike Zacharias had re-signed for the 2010-11 season, the Kings assigned Garrett Zemlak to their ECHL affiliate.
Suffice it to say, the battle for the two goalie positions in Ontario figures to be a fierce one. Zacharias is well aware.
“I know what the job is. That’s the profession were in. I have to fight for a spot,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation before, just not on this level. It’ll be a little different, intense. It’ll be very competitive.”
In his first pro season, the 25-year-old spent his first professional season with the Reign last year, appearing in 24 games and finishing the season 10-6-3 with an .894 save percentage and a goals-against average of 3.28. Zacharias lost the No. 1 mantle to Curtis Darling early in the season, saw more ice time late in the season and was instrumental in the Reign’s late playoff push, but was on the bench again to start the season-ending series in Las Vegas.
Zemlak got a long look from the Kings in their development camp earlier this summer, their rookie tournament against the Phoenix Coyotes and again in training camp. The rookie allowed four goalies in a 7-1 rookie tournament loss to Phoenix, and did not appear in an NHL exhibition game.
Kellen Briggs, who played for the Reign in 2008-09 but spent last season in Germany, has also signed for the upcoming season.
More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
Found this photo (courtesy of Getty Images) of Garrett Zemlak in action against the Phoenix Coyotes rookies last week. It offers a good look at the winged-angel design on the front:
Kellen Briggs, one of the original members of the inaugural 2008-09 Reign squad, is returning to Ontario.
Briggs spent all of 2009-10 in Germany with the Dresdner Eislöwen of the second-tier Bundesliga. He went 23-22-0 with five shutouts and a 2.81 goals-against average in 46 games.
As a rookie with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads in 2007-08, Briggs went 17-11-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average and was named to the National Conference All-Star team. He signed with the Reign the following summer but was quickly shelved by a serious groin injury, which he suffered in the team’s second preseason game.
Briggs didn’t make his Reign debut until January 2009, but proceeded to go 7-5 with a .927 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average. His save percentage and goals-against average – albeit over just 12 games – are still the lowest by a Reign goalie in a single season.
Briggs’ time in the ECHL ended with a call-up to the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates in February 2009. Briggs went 3-3 with a .903 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average for Portland.
I spoke briefly with Briggs by phone this afternoon; he was driving to his family’s home in Colorado and said that he was “excited to be back.” Expect a longer interview in this space sometime Monday.
With Briggs in the picture, it will be interesting to see who ends up sharing the goaltending duties. The Reign have already signed free agent Garrett Zemlak for the upcoming season, and could still receive Kings prospect Martin Jones.
There is nothing small about Garrett Zemlak.
The barrel-chested goaltender is conservatively listed as 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds on the Kings’ rookie camp roster. If he seems larger, it’s because of his peculiar summer passion — MMA and kickboxing — that keeps him in good enough shape to double as an enforcer.
His summer passion also influenced his mask design, in part. There are boxing gloves in the back. In front – well, it’s very green.
Karl Taylor wants a more balanced goaltending tandem than he had last year, when Curtis Darling served as the starter and Mike Zacharias the backup (except in late-season shootouts).
Signing Garrett Zemlak seems like a good start.