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 Jon Francisco?

The rundown on center Jon Francisco:

2010-11 stats (career): 4 goals, 5 points, 2 penalty minutes, -1 rating in 12 games.

Quote: “If I can’t be an effective player, I don’t want to be there.”

Pros: Francisco, who has been with the Reign from Day 1, was still an effective all-around player before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November. The captain in 2008-09 and ’09-10, Francisco defines the best qualities of a leader, infecting others with his positive attitude and dedication.

Cons: There’s no guarantee Francisco wants to come back, and there’s no telling what kind of player he’ll be at age 30 coming off a major injury. 2011-12 would basically be a bonus season for a player who expected to be retired by now.

Jon Francisco post-season quotes.

From the better-late-than-never file…

I was able to catch up with Jon Francisco over the phone last weekend. The first captain in team history was not an easy man to get because he did not have a traditional end-of-season meeting with Karl Taylor at the same time as his teammates. That’s because Francisco missed the last four-plus months of the season after undergoing multiple knee surgeries.

After our chat, I figured I was the only person in the city of Ontario who’s had a hard time catching up with Francisco. Read on:

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Delahey leaves the team, and other notes from practice.

Put another defenseman at the top of the Reign’s Christmas wish list.

Matt Delahey has left for the University of Saskatchewan and has been suspended by the team. The 21-year-old rookie from Moose Jaw had two goals and three assists in 20 games in his first pro season, and played his final game Saturday against Bakersfield.

Delahey did not sign after he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. Last year he had four goals and 22 points in his final WHL season, split between the Regina Pats and the Chilliwack Bruins.

Delahey was one of a few absentees at today’s intrasquad scrimmage, along with defenseman Luke Beaverson and right wing Jeff Corey, who were given maintenance days. Defenseman Chad Starling (lower body) skated on his own for 30-45 minutes prior to the scrimmage. His target return date has been pushed back to Sunday.

Plenty more in tomorrow’s notebook, including why Shawn Collymore didn’t play Saturday and why Jon Francisco might not be standing behind the Reign’s bench much longer.

Injury updates, and more (!) from practice.

The Reign became four teams of four in practice Monday. Their goal: Scoring goals.

“Our whole goal today was to have a whole scoring practice,” coach Karl Taylor said. “Obviously we’ve struggled with that. That was our focus today. We were out there for an hour and 45 minutes, it was based on scoring and having some competition within it.

“We can’t complain about our defensive play, although at times it’s gotten lax and there are things we need to improve. We have to score more. That’s our number one issue. We have to try to get guys attentive to details and creating more chances.”

As they have each of the last two ECHL seasons, the Reign rank last in the league in goals per game.

Right wing Chaz Johnson, who left midway through Saturday’s game in Bakersfield, was back on the ice after suffering a recurrence of the same shoulder injury that cost him three games in November. He said he expects to play Friday.

Chad Starling (lower body) is hopeful he can come back this weekend too, but he hasn’t been cleared to practice yet. The veteran defenseman, who is eligible to come off 21-day IR on Friday, worked out off the ice.

David Walker also missed practice, taking a “maintenance day” often given to veteran players. Also off the ice were forward Jon Francisco and defenseman Eric Doyle, both of whom remain on IR.

As for the competition, the “black team” of Kyle Kraemer, Lane Caffaro, Dusty Collins and Shawn Collymore were the big winners.

A brief note on the defense.

Among the topics that space didn’t allow for in yesterday’s game story was that the Reign have allowed 12 goals in their last two games, more than in their previous five games combined.

While the team was deservedly pleased with their number of scoring chances in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Bakersfield Condors, “four goals should be enough to win you a hockey game,” defenseman David Walker said. “You can’t give up that many goals.”

It’s probably no coincidence that shutdown defenseman Chad Starling and center Jon Francisco, among the team’s best defensive forwards, missed both Sunday and Wednesday’s games with lower-body injuries.

Arguably more troubling than allowing five goals was where all five goals came from – a conservative estimate would be within 20 feet of the net. The last four were scored directly off rebounds. The first came when Adam Naglich had a step on the defense and put a late move on goaltender Kellen Briggs at the net front.

Starling in particular has made a living clearing pucks and people out from in front of his goalies since 2001.

Said Walker, “Anytime you miss a guy who’s played 10 years in professional hockey, it’s his experience. Our team’s not based on one or two guys. We miss Jon Francisco, we miss Chad Starling. When you have older guys in the lineup you have a little bit more experience in the room. I don’t think that’s an issue right now, but all of us have to be better.”

A trade, a win, and a couple notes that won’t make tomorrow’s paper.

The Reign gutted out a 2-1 shootout win against Las Vegas that ended their losing streak at three, and ended their season-long home losing streak at 6. For those of you who attended the game and have never seen a Reign home victory before, that thing where the players gather around The Dragon at center ice and raise their sticks to the crowd? It’s been standard post-victory protocol for three years now.

Dusty Collins and Shawn Collymore scored goals in the shootout, Kellen Briggs made a total of 40 saves – including one on a last-second breakaway – and the Reign were a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, including a pair of 5-on-3s.

They did all this despite the absence of Jon Francisco, Chad Starling, Chaz Johnson and Pierre-Andre Bureau – who was traded to the Stockton Thunder for future considerations prior to the game.

Here are a few notes that won’t appear in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin:

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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.

Las Vegas 1, Reign 0.

Make it six.

Six weeks into the regular season, six home games at Citizens Business
Bank Arena, zero wins for the Reign in front of their home crowd. That
was the consequence of Friday’s 1-0 loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers –
that, and an injury that knocked Jon Francisco out of the game in the
third period.

The Reign failed to capitalize on five power plays, and allowed a Ryan
Huddy goal during a 5-on-4 power play in the first period that proved to
be the game-winner.

Kellen Briggs stopped 24 of 25 shots in the loss. Defenseman Chad
Starling and right wing Chaz Johnson both missed their first game of the
season. Irvine native C.J. Stretch re-entered the lineup.

We’ll try to get updated information in this space, including Francisco’s status for Saturday night’s rematch against the Wranglers, in the morning.