Reign 4, Bakersfield 3.

The Reign won at home, and it was really no secret why. Between the three teeth Brett O’Malley left on the ice, a long and courageous fight by David Walker late in the third period, and plenty of blocked shots along the way, the effort was apparent all over the ice.

“We need to have that effort,” coach Karl Taylor said. “That extra 5, 10 percent was there tonight. I thought Bako played well. It was an entertaining game. That’s what it’s all about. There was a lot of sacrifice on the ice by the guys tonight.”

Jordan Morrison’s second-chance goal waith 8:32 left in the third period ended up being the game-winner. The Reign outshot the Condors 39-32, killed all three Bakersfield penalties, and got a solid 29-save performance from Mike Zacharias.

Morrison, Chaz Johnson and Alex Bourret each had a goal and an assist, Shawn Collymore had a pair of assists and Kyle Kraemer scored his second goal in as many games.

A few more notes that didn’t make tomorrow’s story:
Continue reading

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.

Stockton 4, Reign 2.

The third period wasn’t the problem. The penalty-kill was.

Stockton scored on its first three power plays en route to a 4-2 win to cap a three-game weekend sweep of the Reign at CBBA.

Shawn Collymore scored both Reign goals, both on the power
play, both the result of persistence with pucks in the crease against
Garrett Zemlak. Zemlak, who started the season with the Reign, stopped
26 shots and even got into a fight late in the second period.

Mike Zacharias stopped 27 of 30 for the Reign. He was great at times, but let in a soft goal by Ryan Constant in the second period that proved to be the game-winner.

Another player who started the season in Ontario, Pierre-Andre Bureau, had an empty-net goal and two assists for the Thunder.

Shawn Germain missed the game to attend a firefighting class in Canada. Doug Krantz filled in on the blue line (and played fairly well). James McEwan also got back into the lineup and engaged in two highly entertaining fights.

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

Some brief goalie notes. Update.

It’s two and a half hours before game time in Stockton, and the Reign still have three goalies. To my knowledge.

We will probably learn the fate of Alex Petizian within the next 24 hours. Mike Zacharias and Beau Erickson would seem to be the chosen tandem, and Petizian could either wind up on IR or the waiver wire come Saturday.

In the meantime, the Martin Jones bandwagon certainly seems to be gaining followers. Check out this piece on NHL.com. Jones, who began the season with the Reign and won his first professional game against the Stockton Thunder, was named to the AHL All-Star team earlier this month.

5:30 p.m. update: Petizian is going on 3-day IR, with Zacharias and Beau Erickson the active goalies tonight in Stockton. Also, James McEwan (lower-body) has been transferred to 7-day IR.

Doyle is cut, and more notes from the morning skate.

Eric Doyle’s long-awaited reward for being activated from injured reserve was hardly a reward at all. The defenseman was released by the Reign, a disappointing conclusion to what had been a promising start to his tenure in Ontario.

“I feel awful for the kid,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said. “Good kid. Tough circumstance, but it’s just something we have to do.”

The 21-year-old defenseman had a goal and six points in 12 games to start his rookie year. Four of his five assists came on the power play, a role that hasn’t been easy for the Reign to fill since Doyle originally was diagnosed with a lower-body injury on Nov. 28.

“He hasn’t skated for seven weeks, or six weeks, so we released him from
his contract. We need to get bodies in here now, with our situation in
the standings. We don’t have time to mess around. We need to win now.

“He’s all healed and cleared, and now getting him back in shape and all those things – we need to get someone in here sooner.”

A few more notes from the morning skate:
Continue reading

Utah 5, Reign 3.

The Reign started off with admirable energy, slowed down a bit, rediscovered their early-game tempo in the third period but ultimately found themselves in a familiar place.

They were outshot (29-19), outscored on the power play (3 to 2), outscored short-handed (1 to 0, despite some halfway decent chances) and most importantly, outscored 5-3 on the final scoreboard. It was their fifth straight loss and 14th in 16 home games this season.

The scoresheet also revealed and obscured some positives. The Reign weren’t afraid to fight, from Chaz Johnson and James McEwan on down to Aaron Lewadniuk and little Alex Bourret. All landed enough punches – Johnson landed one cleanly on Matt Sorteberg with his sweater pulled over his head, no less – to earn either a win or a draw.

The power play did a better job generating scoring chances, and its 50 percent conversion rate is usually enough on most nights. The Reign’s 14 total shots – while matching a season low – didn’t take into account several shots that just missed the net. C.J. Stretch clanged one off the goal frame in his first game in a month.

For all their plusses, the Reign still couldn’t kill a penalty against Utah. That seemed to be the main problem, and I discussed it in depth with a couple of the guys – more in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Lastly, it looks inevitable that Jeff Corey is going back to Europe. I don’t know much other than that Corey has an offer and there’s quite a bit of money behind it; the Reign don’t want to lose two of their key players (Corey and Kellen Briggs) in a week and are trying to retain Corey; and because there’s no contract in place at the moment, Corey is still in the area.

The Reign can try to get compensation from an overseas club if they lose Corey (I’m told that they did receive some compensation for Briggs), but they’d rather keep a player who is their leading scorer and among their best penalty killers. There’s also the inevitable perception that players are “jumping ship” with the team entrenched in last place, but I’ve been told that’s not the case. It’s more about the money, and ECHL players don’t make much.

Corey played for Freiburg of the second-tier German Bundesliga last season and spent all of 2007-08 in Denmark. He went down with a lower-body injury Dec. 28 in Victoria and hasn’t played in the last five games, but still leads the team in goals (11), points (24), power-play assists (9), game-winning goals (2) and shots (90).

No Dylan Hunter, and other notes.

Reign coach Karl Taylor said through a team spokesperson that Monday’s ECHL transactions report erroneously showed the Reign signing a defenseman named Dylan Hunter. A forward by the same name, the son of former NHL player Dale Hunter, is under contract to the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Hockeydb.com has no record of any defensemen named Dylan Hunter, so we’re guessing the ECHL goofed.

Also Monday, left wing James McEwan was placed on 3-day injured reserve while center C.J. Stretch was transferred to 7-day injured reserve and defenseman Eric Doyle (upper-body) was transferred to 21-day injured reserve.

No word yet as to whether defenseman Doug Krantz will be joining the team in Victoria, where the Reign will play Tim Kraus and the Victoria Salmon Kings in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.

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

Bakersfield 5, Reign 1.

The Reign found a new way to lose Saturday – start strong, keep the game close for two periods, then let the game get out of reach in the third.

This new route to a familiar result didn’t sit well with the denizens at The Bank, many of whom headed straight for the exit after Stephane Goulet’s goal made it 5-1 at 7:38 of the third period. The Reign have lost five straight, 12 of 13 at home, and it says here that their upcoming eight-day layoff could not have come at a better time.

Whether it gives Chad Starling, Eric Doyle, or Jon Francisco enough time to get healthy; Karl Taylor enough time to bring in a quality veteran; or this team enough time to simply hone its chemistry – a rare sight in recent weeks – the Reign need some time between games.
Continue reading

Bakersfield 4, Reign 1.

A chance to match the Bakersfield Condors in the Western Conference standings turned into the Reign’s third straight loss Saturday.

After Bakersfield’s Vyacheslav Trukhno opened the scoring at 2:27 of the first period, Aaron Lewadniuk answered with a power-play goal – his seventh goal of the season and his fourth in six December gamesĀ - 40 seconds later. Kyle Kraemer and Jordan Morrison picked up the assists.

The first period also featured three fights, starting with James McEwan and Bakersfield’s Erick Lizon dropping gloves only 19 seconds after the opening faceoff. Chaz Johnson, Justin Taylor and Michael Pelech also were hit with fighting majors before the game was over. In all, the teams combined for 90 minutes worth of penalties.

But the Reign would get no closer on the scoreboard, as they were outshot 41-23. Erik Burgdoerfer’s goal gave the Condors a 2-1 lead at 15:39 of the first period, and Stephane Goulet and Trukhno scored 18 seconds apart in the second period to provide the final score.

Kellen Briggs made 37 saves in the loss, his ECHL-leading 12th loss of the season. The Reign (8-14-0-1) could have matched the Condors in the standings with a win, but instead remained in last place in the Western Conference, four points behind the Condors (10-13-1-0).

The Reign played with only five defensemen because Jordan Hill was loaned to the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs prior to the game.

Utah 1, Reign 0, plus a bunch of notes that didn’t make the paper.

One fan suggested that he would wear a bag over his head to the next home game – an understandable choice after the Reign’s 10th loss in 11 games at The Bank.

In reality, Friday’s loss wasn’t particularly difficult to watch; the Reign just had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. No lines looked the same as they did in Wednesday’s 7-3 thrashing at the hands of the Las Vegas Wranglers. Some actually displayed tangible chemistry, namely that of Aaron Lewadniuk, Shawn Collymore and Chaz Johnson. Jeff Corey, Justin Taylor and Kyle Kraemer – playing his first game since Oct. 27 – had their moments, too.

The only moment that mattered came at 12:37 of the second period, when Simon Ferguson’s second-chance whack at the net past Beau Erickson crossed the line for the game’s only goal.

Erickson showed no rust in his first 60-minute game since September. Kellen Briggs’ streak of consecutive starts ended at 18.

The Reign drew three power plays in a six-minute span late in the third period, and skated 6-on-5 for the final minute, but couldn’t bury the equalizer.

James McEwan re-entered the lineup and played sparingly, but he did fight with the much larger Nick Tuzzolino (6-5, 225 to 6-0, 191) in the third period. He landed one clean punch to the face with his left hand – the same hand that was surgically repaired in the off-season – so McEwan passed his first major test in his first game back.

The Reign travel to play the Bakersfield Condors at 7 p.m. tonight at Rabobank Arena.

Here are a few notes that won’t make tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin:
Continue reading