Reign announce season-ending roster.

The Reign have announced their season-ending roster, a list of 20 players of whom eight can be tendered qualifying offers no later than July 1:

Jordan Hill, Jase Weslosky, Jordan Morrison, Kyle Kraemer, Jason Fredricks, C.J. Stretch, Aaron Lewadniuk, Beau Erickson, Pat Bowen, Luke Beaverson, James McEwan, Brett O’Malley, Lane Caffaro, Craig Gaudet, Alex Bourret, Doug Krantz, Kellen Briggs, Chaz Johnson, David Walker and Matt Delahey.

Of the players who finished 2010-11 with the Reign, six are missing from the list:

• Forward Michael Pelech, who was assigned to the Reign by the Manchester Monarchs.

• Five veterans (as defined by the ECHL): Shawn Collymore, Shawn Germain, Jon Francisco, Chad Starling and Justin Taylor. Reign coach Karl Taylor has stated that he doesn’t send qualifying offers to veterans out of principle, since they can decline the offer and become a free agent without any possible compensation to the Reign.

Walker is a veteran. But the captain said that he expects to play in Europe next season [more on this in a future blog], so a qualifying offer sent to him would probably come with little consequence.

Also, note that teams are not required to extend a qualifying offer to players who sign a contract prior to July 1.

All the ECHL season-ending rosters can be found here.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back James McEwan?

The rundown on right wing James McEwan:

2010-11 stats [career]: 2 goals, 4 points, minus-5 rating, 146 penalty minutes in 36 games.

Quote: “All in all, before my rotator cuff started bothering me, I was getting good in every game, feeling confident. Personally I thought it was getting better and better.”

Pros: The third-year enforcer was among the Reign’s hardest-working players. This season, it was evident in McEwan’s recovery from a grisly hand injury that limited his off-season training. His fighting skills are as good as anyone at the ECHL level and his checking ability made him an asset on any line.

Cons: Injuries have limited McEwan to 63 games the last two years, and at 6-0 and 187 pounds, you wonder how long he’ll be able to maintain his playing style. Nobody spends more time practicing his all-around skills, but McEwan might need to score more and fight less just to play a full season.

James McEwan post-season quotes.

James McEwan started the season and ended the season on injured reserve. Such is life for an ECHL tough guy.

But between the time he got back from off-season wrist surgery, and was lost to a torn rotator cuff (which will require surgery, scheduled for next Thursday), McEwan often showed what makes him an effective, attractive commodity at the ECHL level. He led the team in penalty minutes (146) in only 36 games, exactly half the season. The third-year pro also chipped in with two goals, two assists and a minus-5 rating.

He wasn’t ready to commit to a plan for next season, beyond being healthy in time for training camp. Here’s what else McEwan had to say today:
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Idaho 6, Reign 4.

No more than an hour has passed since the end of the Reign’s 2010-11 season, and already the dasher-board advertisements have been removed from CBBA, the benches have been broken down, and the sold-out seats sit empty.

If six months of hockey just ended within the last hour here, you could have fooled me.

Indeed, the Reign ushered in their summer break with a 6-4 loss that didn’t lend itself to any game-as-microcosm-of-season metaphors.

They started hot, leading 2-0 after three minutes, 3-1 after 11 minutes, and 3-2 after 20. Maybe the ice was tilted east tonight, because Idaho scored three goals in 8:24 to start the second period, taking a 5-3 lead and chasing starting goalie Beau Erickson (15 saves). Jase Weslosky performed very well in relief, stopping 19 of 20 shots, but it was too late. The scoring chances were close to even in the third period, but the Reign just didn’t convert as many as their opponent.

Michael Pelech, Justin Taylor, Alex Bourret and C.J. Stretch scored the goals. Stretch had an assist and a (very quick) fight, too, recording a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

I’ll save a recap of the season, and all its foibles, for the Reign’s usual perch on page 2 of Tuesday’s sports section. There will be an end-of-season team banquet tomorrow, before the players meet with Karl Taylor on Monday for one last meeting and to gather their stuff.

Here are some end-of-the season notes:
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Reign 3, Idaho 1.

If you just tuned in to Reign hockey — and judging by the announced crowd of 9,592, that’s quite a few of you — you’re probably wondering why this team has no chance of making the playoffs.

There are many reasons, most of which have been absent from the team’s play the last two weeks. The Reign will take their best five-game stretch of the season (four wins in their last five games) into today’s season finale after a punchless win over Idaho.

Beau Erickson made 31 saves, getting some help from his goal frame and some inaccurate Idaho shots, as well as goals by Michael Pelech, Jordan Morrison and Brett O’Malley.

Both teams were punchless, literally. No penalties were called until David Walker was whistled for hooking with 1:45 to play. It would have been only the fourth penalty-free game in ECHL history, the last coming in a March 30, 2003 game between the Augusta Lynx and Pee Dee Pride.

For the first time all season, all three forward lines are doing their jobs; all three defensive pairs seem to be communicating well and moving the puck up the ice; and the goaltenders are making up for the skaters’ mistakes — maybe the most critical component to sustaining success at this level.

“Since Christmastime, we’ve been .500, right around there, somewhere in that ballpark,” Erickson said. “I think we found our niche and ran out of time.”

That’s one theory. I’ve been collecting a few. Get all the game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:

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Bakersfield 3, Reign 1.

That sound coming from Bakersfield was the nail being hammered just a bit deeper into the Reign’s coffin.

Tonight’s loss to the Condors, combined with the Victoria Salmon Kings’ 5-2 win over the Utah Grizzlies, leaves the Reign (23-36-2-4, 52 points) nine points behind the Salmon Kings (29-32-1-2) for the final Western Conference playoff berth with seven games left in the regular season.

The Reign needed help to harbor any optimism about the playoffs — and got none from a Victoria team that has suddenly won two straight. They also got no help from a red-hot Condors squad that won its seventh straight game, and its 10th in 13 games against the Reign this season.

James McEwan scored the Reign’s only goal on a re-direction of a Luke Beaverson shot at 13:30 of the second period. Bobby Robins, Stephane Goulet and Phil Paquet scored the Bakersfield goals as Jase Weslosky stopped 35 of 38 shots. According to the unofficial stat sheet, the Reign were outshot 38-24.

After Friday’s turn of events it’s possible to see the end of the road: The Reign could be eliminated as early as next Wednesday, when they begin a three-game series in Idaho and the Salmon Kings visit Bakersfield.

The Reign play the Condors again at 7 p.m. Saturday. Utah and Victoria play again Saturday, too.

Notes from an optional practice. Update.

Practice was optional today, but there was quite a crowd on hand to watch. Some local elementary-school children sat in the CBBA stands, and took a brief tour of the building, giving Shawn Germain some valuable practice should he ever aspire to be a field trip coordinator.

It was an eventful morning hockey-wise, too. Craig Gaudet arrived from Alaska; he and former college roommate Jase Weslosky had some time to catch up. Shawn Collymore, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury Feb. 23, said he “noticed a huge difference today, 20 to 30 percent better.” He’s questionable for the Reign’s next game Thursday in Las Vegas.

Beau Erickson, who dislocated his sacroiliac joint March 4, reported some progress after practice, his longest since the injury.

“It’s something I will play through,” he declared. “I’m hoping Thursday I’ll be healthy enough to play.”

Karl Taylor sounded more cautious, a luxury afforded by Weslosky’s strong start Saturday. “We’re not going to rush the situation,” he said. IR is still a possibility for Erickson, mainly because the Reign have to add Gaudet to the active roster today and will need to take someone else off.

More in tomorrow’s notebook. A couple more items from the chopping block:

• Doug Krantz’s first goal of the season Friday could be re-credited to someone else. Taylor said that the shot appeared to touch a stick before going into the net. Whether it was deflected by a Reign stick or a Wranglers stick will affect the final verdict.

• James McEwan offered a strong thought on his four-game suspension for punching Simon Ferguson: “If they’re trying to send a message,” he said, “I’m not sure what message they’re trying to send.”

• Brad Sholl, who last professional experience came with the Los Angeles Blades of the Roller Hockey International (RHI) league, was the goalie for the Kings’ alumni team on Saturday. Sholl is the manager at Toyota Sports Center, the Kings’ practice rink, and a local youth goalie instructor.

Update: Mike Zacharias is going on 3-day IR to make room for Gaudet.

Reign lose 6-3, plus more on Johnson, McEwan and Alex Morton.

The Reign lost in almost typical fashion. Take away the final three minutes of the first period, and they played one of their better games in recent memory – getting more scoring chances, more shots on goal, and more time in the offensive zone than Idaho. That doesn’t happen often.

Of course, you can’t take away those inexplicable three minutes of hockey in which Idaho scored three goals – twice on the power play and again at even strength.

“That’s kind of been the problem we’ve had all year, putting a 60-minute game together,” David Walker said. “Yeah, it’s one of our better games. We got blocked shots, put a lot of shots on net, did a lot of things we wanted to do at the start of the game. But when a team has a power play that good, you can’t give them opportunity after opportunity to do it.”

Walker went on to point out that playing well means little. Alaska is on its way to beating Victoria (the game is currently in the third period). Assuming the 4-2 score holds, the Reign would be left with 11 games in which to make up nine points on the seventh-place Salmon Kings to make the playoffs. So long as the Reign have at least five games to play, and Victoria keeps losing – a loss tonight would be its fourth straight – there’s a chance.

The Reign played without Chaz Johnson and James McEwan; tomorrow’s editions
of the Sun and Daily Bulletin will have plenty on the Reign’s reaction
to the ECHL suspensions. I didn’t have room for many details on the game, so here are a few:
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McEwan, Johnson suspended, fined along with two Utah players.

Chaz Johnson and James McEwan will miss the Reign’s game tonight against the Idaho Steelheads. Both were suspended – Johnson for one game, McEwan for four – along with Simon Ferguson (five games) and Riley Emmerson (one) for their actions in Saturday’s game between the Reign and Utah Grizzlies.

All four players were fined an undisclosed amount by the league.

I have left a message with the ECHL, which does not usually comment on suspensions/fines, and will try to get comments from both Reign players tonight.

Considering the Reign only have 12 games left in the season, the loss of McEwan for one-third of those games is especially impactful. He will not be able to return until the Reign visit Bakersfield March 18. He and Johnson are arguably the team’s most physical players, an element that could be noticeably missing tonight against the Steelheads.

Utah 5, Reign 1.

Tom May and the Utah Grizzlies capitalized on 10 power plays in a penalty-filled Reign loss in West Valley City.

May had three of the Grizzlies’ four power-play goals in a game that saw the Reign go 0-for-6 with the man advantage.

Goalie Mike Zacharias faced a 48-shot barrage and stopped 43 with last night’s starter, Beau Erickson, out due to injury. Oliver Freij, a local college student, served as the emergency backup.

James McEwan had 22 of the Reign’s 62 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a match penalty for fighting at 8:14 of the second period. Alex Bourret and Giffen Nyren fought twice; Jordan Hill fought former Reign defenseman Brian Kilburg; and Kyle Kraemer fought Marcus Carroll.

Utah collected 56 penalty minutes of its own in the final meeting between the two teams this season. Ryley Grantham, who had not collected a single penalty minute in his three previous games with the Grizzlies, was awarded 16 in a single third-period altercation with Luke Beaverson.

Defenseman Pat Bowen scored the Reign’s lone goal, at the end of an odd-man rush at 7:41 of the second period.

The scoresheet changed roughly a dozen times within a half-hour of last night’s game, so take this link with a grain of salt.

The Victoria Salmon Kings (27-2-91-2) lost 5-2 to the Bakersfield Condors to remain nine points ahead of the Reign (21-33-2-4, 48 points) in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The clock is ticking on the Reign’s season – they have 12 games left, Victoria has 13 left, and they need to make up at least nine points. Those odds are beyond long.

The Reign get four days off before hosting the Idaho Steelheads on Wednesday.