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:
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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 ECHL.com.

Tough choices in goal, on defense.

Expect a starting goalie matchup of Beau Erickson for the Reign and Bryan Pitton for the Stockton Thunder, based on the looks of things at the morning skate for both teams today at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Erickson was in goal for wins Friday and Saturday against Elmira, while Mike Zacharias took the only loss of the weekend. But Erickson won despite allowing nine goals in the two games, while Zacharias only allowed two goals in the loss.

Reign coach Karl Taylor is hoping one goalie will make the decision-making process easier.

“We’re trying to get someone to take the ball and run with it. We prefer to have one guy,” Taylor said. “We’ll see.”
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Updates on Hill, O’Malley, Erickson’s new mask, and awaiting Elmira.

Jordan Hill was off the ice Thursday, one day after the defenseman suffered a leg injury in the third period of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Stockton. He was still waiting on the results of x-rays after the morning practice, but said he doesn’t think he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. Karl Taylor neither confirmed nor denied.

“I hit the guy hard, and he fell back,” Hill said. “He landed on my leg.”

If the x-rays come back negative, Hill wouldn’t rule out playing Saturday or Sunday against the Elmira Jackals.

Elmira will be a bit of an enigma. Chaz Johnson played the last two years with the Jackals, but said he knows only two players on the current team – R.J. Anderson and Justin Donati. So obviously there’s been a lot of turnover.

Fortunately, Karl Taylor said he’s done video scouting on four Jackals games this season, and David Walker played under their head coach, Malcolm Cameron, for three seasons in Long Beach. More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin on what they’re expecting.

Brett O’Malley, meanwhile, revealed that he needed 12 stitches to close a wound in his lip when he was struck by a puck in the third period Saturday. As for his teeth, O’Malley said that one shattered into four pieces, “two teeth were just hanging in there,” and three were recovered on the ice. He’ll wear a wire to protect his teeth for six weeks, and will wear a full plastic face shield indefinitely.

Last but not least, after the jump, check out Beau Erickson’s new mask. It arrived this week, and the goalie was justifiably impressed with the handiwork of his Toronto-area designer. To my knowledge, he’s the first Reign goalie with a Reign-themed mask:
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Stockton 4, Reign 2.

All of the hard hits and unbridled energy of the Reign’s 4-3 win Saturday against Bakersfield had left the building by Wednesday.

Karl Taylor described the 4-2 loss to Stockton, in so many words, as a step backwards. It was tough to disagree. The first 12 minutes of the second period saw the Reign go from up 1-0 to down 3-1, and even a 37-shot effort against Bryan Pitton wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.

Alex Bourret and Michael Pelech scored the goals, and Mike Zacharias made 31 saves.

More 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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Caffaro suspended, heading to Germany.

Lane Caffaro became the third Reign player to leave for Europe this month on Friday, when the defenseman was suspended by the team and joined the Hannover Indians of the German Bundesliga.

According to the website haz.de, Caffaro has arrived in Hannover but the team hasn’t officially affirmed his transfer yet, as his contract status is still in limbo. Because the Reign suspended him, however, it seems unlikely that there is any scenario in which he comes back.

Caffaro played a valuable role on the Reign’s blue line this season as the primary point man on the power play. The 26-year-old had 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 36 games since arriving in a trade with the Idaho Steelheads. Tonight’s game against the Utah Grizzlies will be the Reign’s first without Caffaro since October.

The Reign will be getting defenseman Jordan Hill, and center Dusty Collins, for tonight’s game after each was cut by his AHL team this week. However, Hill isn’t the same kind of defenseman as Caffaro — more of a gritty two-way player than an offensive specialist — and it will be interesting to see what kind of changes Karl Taylor makes without Caffaro.

The turnover on defense (pun intended).

Quick, how many Reign defensemen who played Wednesday were on the team to start the season?
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Reign 6, Victoria 3.

The Reign have successfully hit the “reset” button.

Kellen Briggs made 47 saves, including all 19 he faced in the third period, en route to the Reign’s second straight win. Led by Briggs, the penalty kill awoke from its long slumber to snuff out four of the Salmon Kings’ five man-advantage chances.

Ten different players recorded a point for the Reign, led by Chaz Johnson’s two-goal effort – he scored them 17 seconds apart in the second period to break a 3-3 tie. Jordan Morrison and Kyle Kraemer each had a goal and an assist; Jeff Corey and Lane Caffaro had one goal each; and Dusty Collins and David Walker both had two assists.

The Reign scored six goals for the second straight game despite getting outshot 50-28. Corey, Kraemer and Caffaro have two goals the past two games, and Johnson has three. Newcomer Alex Bourret has two assists in the three games.

Another newcomer, defenseman Doug Krantz, made his Reign debut and was held without a point. Defenseman Luke Beaverson missed his second straight game.

Former Reign center Tim Kraus was held without a point in his first game against his former team.

The two teams play again at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Victoria.

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.

Reign 4, Utah 3.

There’s no place like home, but there’s been no place better for the Reign than the road.

A 4-3 win over the Utah Grizzlies on Friday at the E-Center was the Reign’s fourth straight win away from The Bank. Goals by Aaron Lewadniuk, Chaz Johnson, Michael Pelech (short-handed) and Lane Caffaro ended the Reign’s losing skid at 2, and toppled the best team in the Western Conference.

The Reign played with the same lineup as they did in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Bakersfield Condors. Defenseman Pat Bowen played his second straight game in favor of Eric Doyle and Matt Delahey; Chad Starling (lower-body injury) is still on IR. Forwards Kyle Kraemer (knee) and Jon Francisco (lower-body) remained out, and center Tim Kraus was scratched again.

Kellen Briggs made his 17th straight start and stopped 31 of 34.

Pelech also had an assist, as did Luke Beaverson, Brett O’Malley and Jordan Hill.

The two teams meet again at 6 p.m. tonight. More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.