Berube in goal, plus more notes.

J-F Berube will get his first start since Dec. 26 tomorrow when the Reign host the Bakersfield Condors.

Berube’s last outing was a forgettable one – down to 13 skaters, he was the unlucky goalie as the Reign lost 5-0 to the Las Vegas Wranglers. Still short-handed, the Reign reached back the next four games and went 2-0-1, averaging 36 shots a game with goalie Chris Carrozzi in net.

That impressive feat will be the focus of tomorrow’s notebook in the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Berube has not faced the Condors since opening night, a 5-4 Reign loss.

A few more notes from practice:
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Irwin suspended four games, Couture one.

The Reign will be without two-thirds of their top line when they return to the ice next Monday in Las Vegas.

Left wing Geoff Irwin was suspended four games, and Derek Couture one, by the ECHL on Tuesday for their actions Sunday in Alaska.

Aces defenseman Brandon Gentile slew-footed Couture at 14:30 of the second period of Sunday’s game, moments after Francois Brisebois scored the Reign’s first goal of the game. That set off a massive brawl with Couture and Gentile in the middle. You can see how it started at the 2:27 mark of this video:

At the 3:08 mark, Couture appears to be the second man in on a fight between Gentile and Reign defenseman Chris Huxley. Couture was given a double game misconduct for his role in the altercation.

Irwin was suspended for an illegal hit to the head; his only penalty in the game was a second-period elbowing minor. “He went through the body clean and he obviously came up high on his follow-through on the hit,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “That’s what they’re trying to get rid of. It’s understandable. He came up a little too high. You don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy. ”

Kyle Kraemer, who fetched a 10-minute misconduct penalty after taking a hard hit from Alaska’s Kane Lafranchise at the end of the second period, was fined an undisclosed amount along with Irwin and Couture.

Reign 2, Bakersfield 1.

Matt Tassone and Geoff Irwin scored the goals and Darcy Kuemper was Darcy Kuemper, making the easy saves look easy and the hard saves look easy while barely missing out on a shutout. He stopped 35 of 36.

Kuemper and the Reign should be glad they survived a night in which they were short-handed nine times, including all of the final 1:58. Bakersfield cashed in during a 6-on-3 shift when Justin Pender scored with 1:02 left but that was it for the Condors, who have lost eight in a row.

Check out the game story in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin. A few notes that won’t make the print edition:
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Stockton 3, Reign 2.

Kevin Baker knocked in the game-winning goal off a rebound at 11:45 of the third period, and Olivier Roy’s 40 saves buried the Reign in a game they dominated for the better part of 60 minutes.

Stockton scored twice in the third period to erase a 2-1 Reign lead. Jean-Francois Berube made 24 saves in his first start since recording a shutout last Saturday in Alaska. He couldn’t be blamed for the defensive-zone giveaway that led to Milan Kytnar’s game-tying goal, nor the lack of a backcheck that gave Baker ample time and space on the doorstep to put back Cameron Abney’s shot and break the 2-2 deadlock.

Geoff Irwin and Derek Couture scored the Reign’s only goals, both on 5-on-3 power plays. That’s about what it took to beat Roy, who raised both arms and jumped (a little) after the final horn sounded. It’s only November, but he played well enough to earn it. Talking to Dylan Yeo after the game, the biggest disappointment for the Reign was not cashing in on their many chances.

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

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Gabriel Levesque update.

Stockton Thunder center Gabriel Levesque remained in a hospital Thursday morning, and could face season-ending hip surgery after being hit into the boards in the Reign’s 4-2 win Wednesday.

Thunder coach Matt Thomas said that “they’re still trying to figure out exactly the overall seriousness of it but the early diagnosis doesn’t look promising.” Levesque is expected to be released sometime today and then will meet with his team doctor to determine if surgery is necessary.

“The good thing is it’s not something that required emergency surgery,” Thomas said. “That’s a positive thing, in terms of the ability to heal from it.”

Levesque left Citizens Business Bank Arena on a gurney, lying on his left side — not his back –¬†and looking dazed, if not unconscious. Thomas said he didn’t know if Levesque lost consciousness, only that the 21-year-old center “was in a lot of pain. Serious pain.”

Thomas also said that a video review showed that the initial high-stick that clipped Levesque in the face came from Reign left wing Geoff Irwin, not that of right wing Derek Couture, who received a high-sticking penalty on the play. Couture delivered the hard hit immediately after Levesque was high-sticked and let go of the puck.

Asked if it was a clean hit, Thomas said: “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think it was just because it was more of a — it wasn’t a body check. It was like he pushed him. Is it a dirty hit? I don’t know. It’s a push. I’m sure Couture didn’t want to hurt him, but Levesque was in a bad spot when he got pushed.”

Reign 4, Stockton 2.

The Reign probably won’t frame Tuesday’s victory and hang it on a wall, but it could serve as a good jolt in the arm. (The team actually has some framed photographs of victory scenes hanging around their locker room, so the cliche works.)

Despite getting pushed around for the better part of three periods, and playing sloppy, turnover-prone hockey on occasion, they left CBBA with a series-opening 4-2 win. Chris Cloud had a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” — a goal, assist and fight — and the line of Geoff Irwin, C.J. Stretch and Derek Couture dominated the Thunder all night, combining for three goals, four assists and a plus-4 rating.

Stretch in particular was being draped all night, but still managed to shed the defense for a goal and two assists — both primary assists from behind the net on goals by Irwin.

“It’s frustrating for him,” Couture said. “Teams are going to look at his stats, see that Stretch is leading the team in points and play hard on him. … He fought through it.”

On a night when the Reign were outshot 37-23, the final score could have been quite a bit higher. But Darcy Kuemper heated up as the game went along, stopping 35 of 37 shots – including 16 in the final 20 minutes.

J.D. Watt had two assists, defenseman Chris Huxley played a solid defensive game and finished plus-3, and Shayne Neigum delivered a spirited bout with Stockton’s Jordan Foreman in the third period.

Plenty more details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few notes that won’t make the paper:

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New defenseman (#16) and other notes.

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:
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Reign 3, Stockton 2, shootout.

Darcy Kuemper was victorious in his ECHL debut and Geoff Irwin’s forehand past Olivier Roy was the game-winner in the Reign’s first win of the season Saturday night.

C.J. Stretch and Steven Tarasuk also scored shootout goals for the Reign (1-1), who get a respite until traveling to Vegas next Friday. Kuemper stopped 28 of 30 shots.

Bill Bagron deposited a beautiful backhand feed from Dylan Yeo at 16:12 of the second period for the game’s first goal. Francois Brisebois got the Reign’s only power-play goal in six tries with 3.5 seconds left in the middle period. Standing in front of the crease, he took a Derek Couture pass from behind the net – then took a shot in the back after poking the puck between the pads of Olivier Roy (33 saves).

Bagron and Brisebois both have two goals on the season.

Head coach Jason Christie liked the overall effort better than Friday’s.

“They stuck their nose in there and made some good plays,” he said. “That’s a key at this level – you have to win the battles. We’re losing battles down low, and it’s a rush against. We definitely have to make sure we get better on that.”

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. Here are a few more observations:

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Yeo named captain; Couture, Irwin alternates.

Defenseman Dylan Yeo was named the third captain of the Reign today, and forwards Derek Couture and Geoff Irwin will wear the alternate captain’s “A”s tonight when the season opens against the Bakersfield Condors.

Yeo, 25, last captained the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League in 2006-07, a team that included future NHLers Karl Alzner, Ryan White, Alex Plante and Brodie Dupont, and current Kings prospects Martin Jones and Brandon Kozun. Among his unique duties in Calgary: Singing the national anthem.

The defenseman has never been a captain in his four professional seasons. Christie said that a team ballot was used to choose the captain and both alternates.

The head coach also said that Couture, a seventh-year pro, will be named a permanent alternate, while Irwin’s “A” could be rotated as players are added to the team. Irwin, 26, was only a rookie last year, but “he’s the type of hard-working guy that we like,” Christie said.

Jon Francisco (2008-09, 2009-10) and David Walker (2010-11) were the previous captains.

More from Yeo after tonight’s game.

Geoff Irwin, acquired for Aaron Lewadniuk, signs.

As expected, Geoff Irwin has signed with the Reign. The 26-year-old forward was acquired in an August trade that sent Aaron Lewadniuk to the Idaho Steelheads.

Karl Taylor, who engineered the trade, described it as a stroke of good fortune for the Reign.

“Irwin is an outstanding individual who we feel adds a lot to our team,” Taylor said at the time. “We just felt a change in scenery for both guys was a good situation. That’s the way it kind of came together.

Irwin, Taylor said, is “a quick kid, got a lot of compete in his game – very consistent, at least from what I can tell. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. He’s a guy who Idaho didn’t necessarily want to trade, but other factors came into play and we were able to get him.”

New head coach Jason Christie enters the job with 13 players known to be under contract:

Forwards (5): Derek Couture, Jordan Morrison, Kyle Kraemer, C.J. Stretch, Geoff Irwin.

Defensemen (6): Chad Starling, Pat Bowen, Jason Fredricks, Adrian Van de Mosselaer, Dylan Yeo, Jordan Hill.

Goalies (2): Jase Weslosky, Beau Erickson.