Reign 4, Idaho 3.

The Reign’s 3-2 deficit in third period wasn’t too much to overcome on Wednesday, and they can only hope their six-point deficit in the standings isn’t too large, either.

Clearly, the Reign are a team in the mood for comebacks. Jordan Morrison’s goal with 4:50 left in the third period, and an overtime goal by Kyle Kraemer, lifted them to a 4-3 win over Idaho before an announced crowd of 6,644 at CBBA. Mike Zacharias (10-11-3-3) stopped 36 of 39 shots to win his second straight start.

Kraemer also scored a power-play goal in the first period and Justin Taylor scored at 7:25 of the second to give the Reign a 2-0 lead. Idaho went ahead on unanswered goals by Cody Purves, Mark Derlago and Junior Lessard.

The Reign went 2-for-3 on the power play and also killed off a pair of third-period power plays after Purves scored on the Steelheads’ first man-advantage shift of the game.

The Victoria Salmon Kings (24-27-1-2, 51 points) still hold the seventh and final playoff position in the Western Conference, six points ahead of the Reign (20-30-2-3, 45 points). The Salmon Kings have one game in hand, but the pressure is on them now to beat Utah in their next game Friday.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Reign 4, Idaho 3.” »

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

Idaho 2, Reign 1, OT.

Aki Seitsonen’s goal with 5 seconds left in overtime lifted the Idaho Steelheads to a 2-1 win over the Reign before an announced crowd of 3,261 at Qwest Arena.

Playing their second overtime game in as many nights, the Reign salvaged a point to finish their four-game swing through the Mountain Division 1-1-2.

Mike Zacharias probably deserved better. Playing his first game since the All-Star break, the second-year goaltender stopped 33 of 35 shots against his former teammates, including one on Marty Flichel’s breakaway putback attempt at 3:01 of overtime that momentarily caused the goal judge to light the lamp.

It was one of many clutch saves in a game in which the Reign were outshot 31-22. James McEwan’s first goal of the season, at 4:23 of the first period, was their only success against Idaho goalie Tyler Beskorowany (21 saves). McEwan also had a fight in the first period, but was denied the Gordie Howe hat trick in an otherwise uneventful game for the Reign. Both teams finished 0-for-3 on the power play.

The Reign visit Bakersfield on Friday before playing six straight home games.

As we suggested in this space yesterday, the Reign will need to improve their home record (4-15-0-1) drastically before they can feel comfortable gaining four of a possible eight points on the road. However, considering the quality of their opponents — Utah and Idaho are a close 1-2 in the Mountain Division standings — we may be seeing signs of progress.

Injury updates, and a trade.

Jon Francisco was still awaiting the results of an MRI scan on his lower-body injury during the Reign’s morning skate Saturday, but the forward will miss at least the next three weeks regardless of the diagnosis. Francisco was placed on 21-day IR, leaving the Reign without their second-leading goal scorer until at least mid-December.

While Francisco would be eligible to return Dec. 18 against Bakersfield, he might need to take advantage of the eight-day break between that game and the Reign’s Dec. 26 meeting with Las Vegas.

Francisco joins a growing injured list that includes right wing Chaz Johnson (shoulder), forward Kyle Kraemer (knee), and defenseman Chad Starling (lower body). Needing immediate help, the Reign acquired Justin Taylor from the Idaho Steelheads for future considerations.

Taylor, 27, has spent most of his seven professional seasons in the AHL, but started this year in Idaho, playing 10 games and collecting three goals and eight points.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound center played 36 games for the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2008-09, collecting 13 goals and 30 points. Taylor is expected to fly in from Victoria, British Columbia, where the Steelheads are playing the Salmon Kings, and play in the lineup tonight. He will wear number 19.

Robert Pearce signs in Idaho.

Robert Pearce, who played in 46 games for the Reign last season, has signed with the Idaho Steelheads according to the Idaho Statesman.

Pearce didn’t score much – five goals and 16 points – but the winger was a steady contributor on the penalty kill and was among the team’s more disciplined players (30 PIM). Pearce was not among the eight players sent qualifying offers on July 1.

The 27-year-old will be reunited in Idaho with Dustin Friesen, a college teammate at the University of New Brunswick, where the two won CIS University Cups together in 2007 and 2009.

Coaching change in Idaho.

I’m a day late on this, but the Idaho Steelheads have been looking for a new coach for at least 24 hours.

Derek Laxdal is leaving Boise for the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings after five seasons. The Steelheads went 217-108-35 under his watch, including the league’s best record (48-17-7) last season. Idaho won the Kelly Cup in 2007 and were runners-up in 2009-10.

If anything, the Reign may gain a slight edge in the recruiting department depending on how long it takes the Steelheads to identify Laxdal’s successor. One thing the new coach might want to figure out is how to beat a Karl Taylor defensive scheme. The Reign went 6-2-1 against Idaho last season.

ECHL playoffs: Stockton wins a thriller.

It took four hours, 15 minutes and three overtimes, but Ryan Constant finally gave 3,441 in attendance at Stockton Arena what they were waiting for Wednesday.

Constant’s goal 36 seconds into the third overtime gave the Stockton Thunder a 1-0 win over the Idaho Steelheads and averted a three games to none deficit for the Thunder – a virtual death sentence in a best-of-seven series. The goal came with five seconds remaining in a power play that began late in the second overtime.

Thunder goalie Bryan Pitton made 49 saves in a marathon shutout. The Steelheads put 18 shots on goal in the second overtime alone, thanks in part to a pair of power plays, while Stockton never managed more than 11 shots in any of the 20-minute stanzas. Idaho goalie Richard Bachman stopped 35 of 36 shots.

National Conference finals matchup set.

The Stockton Thunder will meet the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL National Conference Finals, having beaten the Bakersfield Condors 7-4 in Game 5 of their quarterfinal series Saturday.

Stockton was able to clinch its first trip to the conference finals on home ice with goals from seven different players and 31 saves from Andrew Perugini.

The Pacific Division-champion Condors didn’t make it past the second round despite a roster that included two players who had appeared in the NHL this season (Kyle Calder and MacGregor Sharp), and another who dressed for the parent-club Anaheim Ducks (Timo Pielmeier, who briefly served as a backup goalie). Pielmeier allowed six goals on 33 shots in the loss.

ECHL playoff update.

The Idaho Steelheads eliminated the Utah Grizzlies with a 4-1 win on the road Friday, sweeping the series four games to none to move on to the National Conference finals.

They will face either the Bakersfield Condors or the Stockton Thunder, who pushed their Central Valley rivals to the brink with a 6-2 win Friday night in Stockton. The Thunder lead the best-of-seven series three games to one, with Game 5 set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

AHL, ECHL playoff updates.

From the Calder Cup playoffs (American Hockey League):

Bud Holloway scored the second of three goals for the Manchester Monarchs in a 3-1 win over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night. Holloway scored the game-winner a night earlier, and the Monarchs lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. Former Reign forward Dwight King did not factor into the scoring in either game, and former Reign goalie Jeff Zatkoff has served as the backup in both.

Jon Rheault was in the starting lineup, but was kept off the scoresheet in a 4-1 loss by the Abbotsford Heat to the Rochester Americans on Saturday. Their series is tied at 1 game apiece.

Dusty Collins and the Manitoba Moose absorbed an 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday. Collins did not figure into the scoring and the Moose head home to Winnipeg trailing 2-0 in the series.

From the Kelly Cup playoffs (ECHL):

Brian Kilburg and the Utah Grizzlies are down two games to none against the Idaho Steelheads after a 4-3 loss in Boise on Saturday. The former Reign defenseman got the starting nod but didn’t score.

Oren Eizenmann’s second goal of the game at 9:01 of overtime lifted the Stockton Thunder to a 4-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday. The Thunder are leading 2-0 with the series heading back to Stockton on Tuesday. Bakersfield’s two ex-NHL forwards, MacGregor Sharp and Kyle Calder, have a combined zero goals and zero assists in the two games.