New defenseman, plus a Chad Starling update.

Vincent LoVerde is the Reign’s newest defenseman. The rookie out of Miami (Ohio) University averaged 1.5 goals and 7.5 assists in his four-year college career, which ended when the top-seeded RedHawks were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March.

LoVerde wasn’t at practice Thursday but Jason Christie said he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow night in Las Vegas. Eddie DelGrosso, who was claimed off waivers Wednesday, wasn’t at practice either and was still awaiting a physical. Christie is hopeful that DelGrosso can play, too.

Just to recap, then:

Jason Fredricks, Pat Bowen, Dylan Yeo, Chad Starling, Jordan Hill and Adrian van de Mosselaer signed over the summer. Jeff MacPhee, Iain McPhee and Travis Gawryletz signed during training camp. Steven Tarasuk, Mike Montgomery, Philippe Seydoux, JP Cote, Eddie DelGrosso and Vincent LoVerde either signed or were acquired through trade since the regular season began.

So even though the Reign have skated the same six defensemen in their first two regular-season games, 15 different blueliners have been under contract to the team since July 1.

Fifteen. Through two games. Let that sink in.
Continue reading “New defenseman, plus a Chad Starling update.” »

Changes coming, notes from practice. Update.

There were no changes on the ice at practice today, but that should change soon. Jason Christie is hoping to add another defenseman and said that the goalie situation — the Reign have four, two more than logic dictates they should have — could be resolved later today. I’ll pass along updates as I get them.

One thing that probably won’t change: Bill Bagron will center Brady Calla and Chris Cloud. The 29-year-old pivot has scored one goal in every game so far this season, including the preseason. Not bad for a guy who scored 13 goals in four college seasons, and has played all but seven of his 214 career games below the ECHL level. More from him in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Here were the forward lines and defense pairings (same as yesterday):
     Jordan Morrison-C.J. Stretch-Derek Couture
     J.D. Watt-Francois Brisebois-Geoff Irwin
     Chris Cloud-Bill Bagron-Brady Calla
     Shayne Neigum-Matt Tassone-Jeff MacPhee

     Dylan Yeo-Mike Montgomery
     JP Cote-Steve Tarasuk
     Iain McPhee-Philippe Seydoux

Update (2:55 p.m.): MacPhee and McPhee were both placed on waivers today, ending the MacPhee-McPhee D-pair experiment after only one game, and halting the ECHL careers of both players after two games (for now).

Defenseman Eddie DelGrosso was claimed off waivers from the Las Vegas Wranglers. DelGrosso played against the Reign in the preseason and had no points, and two penalty minutes, in two regular-season games. The Las Vegas native had three goals and 11 points in 29 games for the Wranglers at the end of last season, his first in the ECHL.

The 26-year-old also played eight games in Europe last season. In 2009-10, after his final season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, DelGrosso played eight games with the Springfield Falcons. His numbers in college indicate that DelGrosso can add some offense, if not size (listed at 5-10, 198 pounds)  to the Reign blue line.

Incidentally, the Reign are third in the ECHL waiver priority order until the end of the month, whereupon priority will be given in reverse order of winning percentage. Chicago and Colorado, the two first-year ECHL franchises, are currently first and second in the waiver priority order.

Season-opening rosters released; new D-man; Seydoux out.

The Citizens Business Bank Arena ice was covered in tile Thursday morning for a graduation ceremony. That meant the Reign packed up and headed for Riverside Ice Town for the first, last and only off-site skate of training camp.

Iain McPhee didn’t make the drive down, but Jason Christie said the defenseman will play in tomorrow’s season opener against Bakersfield. Philippe Seydoux, who was able to play in the preseason on a tryout but still doesn’t have his U.S. B1 work visa, will not.

“Hopefully he’ll get cleared by Monday,” Christie said. “You’re allowed to play on a tryout, but you can’t play in the regular season without the right paperwork for immigration.”

One transaction was announced after practice: Second-year defenseman Steven Tarasuk was acquired from the Wheeling Nailers for cash. The 21-year-old Tarasuk had four goals and 25 points in 65 games as a rookie with the Kalamazoo Wings last season. A native of Thornhill, Ont., Tarasuk also had one assist in three regular-season games with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and three assists in four ECHL playoff games last season. He fits the mold of the offensively skilled defenseman that Christie was seeking; Tarasuk had 19 goals and 67 points in 67 games in his final junior season for a powerhouse 2009-10 London Knights squad.

The five defensemen on the ice rotated partners. Here were the line rushes:

Derek Couture-Jordan Morrison-Francois Brisebois
J.D. Watt/Geoff Irwin-C.J. Stretch-Shayne Neigum
Chris Cloud/August Aiken-Bill Bagron-Brady Calla

The season-opening roster contained no surprises (except that Mike Montgomery, who has skated exclusively as a defenseman, was listed as a forward:

Continue reading “Season-opening rosters released; new D-man; Seydoux out.” »

Another defenseman hurt; first roster submitted tomorrow.

Iain McPhee left practice Tuesday with an upper-body injury, bringing the list of injured Reign defensemen to Way Too Many.

McPhee’s injury isn’t considered as serious as those to Jason Fredricks (knee) or Pat Bowen (lower-body), and Jason Christie didn’t let on a sense of urgency when he said he wanted to add another offensively skilled defenseman.

“(Dylan) Yeo and (Travis) Gawryletz, you can classify them right up there,” Christie said. “(Philippe) Seydoux came in and played well.”

New defenseman Mike Montgomery practiced but new goalie J-F Berube did not; the goalie was taking his physical today and should be on the ice tomorrow.

Tomorrow is important for another reason: Christie must submit his first roster to the ECHL by noon.

Coaches have to submit a roster daily once the season begins. The first
regular-season games aren’t until Friday, but Christie said the
wants the first rosters in tomorrow because that gives players who are
released a full two days to find
new homes.

The roster is limited to 20 active players plus injured reserve, while
staying beneath the league-mandated salary cap and team’s internal
budget. Assuming Bowen, Fredricks and left wing Kyle Kraemer
(lower-body) begin the season on IR, the Reign have 20 active players in
camp right now. Christie won’t keep four goalies, but said he might
keep three from the group of Berube, Jase Weslosky, Beau Erickson and
Dustin Carlson, at least for now. Carlson is in camp on a tryout, Weslosky and
Erickson have ECHL contracts, and Berube is basically guaranteed a spot
since he was assigned to Ontario by the Kings.

That might be the
only cut he has to make between now and noon tomorrow. “It’s not easy,”
Christie said. “Whether it’s goalies or forwards or defensemen, it’s
never good.”

A few more notes:

Continue reading “Another defenseman hurt; first roster submitted tomorrow.” »

Fredricks out 4-6 weeks, reinforcements on the way, camp cuts. Update.

Bad news for defenseman Jason Fredricks, who will miss 4 to 6 weeks with a knee injury sustained in practice Sunday. Fredricks was one of only four defensemen on the ice to begin camp; Chad Starling is dealing with an immigration issue, Adrian van de Mosselaer is recovering from mononucleosis, and two other signed defensemen are still in the Manchester Monarchs’ training camp.

Fredricks’ injury briefly left the Reign with three defensemen. With the first exhibition game looming Saturday, head coach Jason Christie signed defenseman Jeff MacPhee (no relation to defenseman Iain McPhee) to a pro tryout contract. MacPhee, 26, appeared in four games with the Bloomington PrairieThunder last season after spending most of the year in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Christie said he’s also signed Travis Gawryletz, a fourth-year pro who is still in camp with the Monarchs. That makes two defensemen hung up in Manchester, along with Jordan Hill.

Update: The Monarchs announced that they’ve cut Gawryletz, so he should be en route to Ontario soon. The 25-year-old spent the majority of the last two seasons in the AHL with Lake Erie; last season he put up four goals, 18 points and 46 penalty minutes in 69 games. He has size (6-2, 200) and the distinction of being drafted in the now-nonexistent eighth round (253rd overall) of the NHL Entry Draft in 2004 by Philadelphia — ahead of Pekka Rinne (258), Mark Streit (262) and Luke Beaverson (283), but behind Alex Ovechkin (1), Yutaka Fukufuji (238) and Dusty Collins (163).

There were two new arrivals at camp Tuesday.

Right wing J.D. Watt amassed an impressive 86 penalty minutes in only 37 games last season between the Abbotsford Heat and San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. Watt was in Manchester on a tryout. In his last full AHL season, 2009-10, the 24-year-old had 267 penalty minutes in 70 games, along with eight goals and 13 points.

Watt played 18 games for the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2008-09 and one game for the Utah Grizzlies in 2009-10, but has otherwise spent his entire three-year professional career in the AHL. Listed at 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, Watt was a fourth-round draft pick (111th overall) by the Calgary Flames in 2005.

Forward Francois Brisebois also joined the Reign after being released from his AHL tryout with the Chicago Wolves. The 23-year-old Montreal native finished a four-year career with Colgate University last season with a 17-goal, 17-assist campaign in 42 games. He also appeared in three regular-season games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators.

To make room for the new arrivals, three players were cut. Forward Andrew Monesi of Simi Valley and goalie Darren Yount of Alta Loma earned their spots out of the team’s open free agent tryout. Forward Mike Thomson of La Habra Heights was in camp on a pro tryout contract.

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

Reign sign McPhee, announce camp roster.

Iain McPhee became the latest player to sign with the Reign this summer. The defenseman, who turns 26 Saturday, has split his two professional seasons between the Central Hockey League and the International Hockey League.

Despite his lack of ECHL experience, McPhee could get a long look. Defenseman Jordan Hill was included on the Manchester Monarchs’ camp roster, released Thursday, and Adrian van de Mosselaer was also excluded from the Reign’s camp roster and could be in the American Hockey League. (AHL camps are already open for business.) Only five defensemen, including McPhee, are expected to be on the ice tomorrow.

McPhee played four years in the Ontario Hockey League for the Windsor Spitfires, where he was teammates with future NHLers Bryan Bickell, Steve Downie, Cam Janssen, Cal O’Reilly and Kyle Wellwood. He moved on to the University of Prince Edward Island, posting five goals and 19 points in three years. In his first pro season, 2009-10, McPhee split his time between three IHL teams, notching a goal and four points in 45 games. Last season he had 12 points, all assists, and 79 penalty minutes in 48 games for the CHL’s Allen Americans.

One other name was listed on the Reign’s training camp roster, and it’s a familiar one. Mike Thomson of La Habra Heights earned a pro tryout contract — he didn’t have to try out in Riverside, like he did in 2008 and 2010 — and brings four games of ECHL experience this time around. The forward collected two assists and a plus-1 rating during his brief cameo with the Wheeling Nailers last season.

Making the opening-day roster is probably a more realistic goal now for Thomson and all the forwards who are here on tryout contracts — Kyle Reed, Dean Yakura, August Aiken and Andrew Monesi. A total of only seven forwards were signed in the off-season by Karl Taylor and Jason Christie, and that’s not enough to fill three lines.

Of course, the Kings are expected to kick down some help this season, and that could include a forward (or two). Odds are, that forward is going to be in Manchester’s camp until the Kings make their final training-camp cuts, which are expected to come in the next week. The same goes for any NHL-contracted defensemen and goalies who will find their way to Ontario this year.

That said, here are the 21 players expected to be on the ice tomorrow when camp opens at 10:30 a.m. sharp:
Continue reading “Reign sign McPhee, announce camp roster.” »