Reign qualify eight.

Eight players received qualifying offers from the Reign on Friday: Aaron Lewadniuk, Jordan Morrison, Luke Beaverson, Jordan Hill, Lane Caffaro, Brett O’Malley, Pat Bowen and C.J. Stretch.

Some things to remember:

• The Reign have probably already re-signed some other players, so these eight players are not the starting point for next year’s roster. All we know is that none of them have signed a contract yet.

• The qualifying offer remains open until August 1, or until it is accepted by the player, during which time he cannot be traded.

• History tells us that most guys will either decline their offers, or somehow wind up playing elsewhere. For example, in 2009 the Reign qualified eight players and only three (Mike Howe, Andrew Martens, Dan Knapp) wound up playing in Ontario the following season. Darren McMillan, Jason Techjma, Dale Reinhardt, Dusty Collins and Kellen Briggs all moved on. In 2010, two qualified players came back (Mike Zacharias and James McEwan), and the other six (Greg Hogeboom, Jon Rheault, Geoff Walker, Curtis Darling Peter Lenes and Chris Curran) moved on.

• Players that were not signed by today or extended a qualifying offer become unrestricted free agents.

• The ECHL allows up to eight players to be qualified.

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.

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.

Reign 1, Bakersfield 0.

The Reign waited 37 games to record their first shutout of the season, and goalie Beau Erickson – a witness to the frustration since Week 2 – literally jumped off the ice to celebrate the occasion.

“It was a long time coming,” he said. “I didn’t make a whole lot of difficult saves … maybe two or three tough saves tonight. I got a little help. They hit the post a couple times tonight.”

By itself, it was a fairly routine 27-save shutout for Erickson, backed by a second-period wraparound goal by Michael Pelech.

But in contrast to the rest of the season, it looked like a turning point for a defense that had only recently begun to jell. The outlet passes were closer to the tape of teammates’ sticks. Shooting lanes and passing lanes were clogged. There was more function than dysfunction.

Bakersfield (20-17-1-0) clogged its share of shooting and passing lanes too, at times frustrating the Reign despite a respectable 25-shot offensive effort. Pelech’s second-period wraparound on Brian Stewart was the game’s only goal.

It was somewhat typical of a win from Year 1 in these parts – outshot, and at times outchanced, but the Reign had slightly better goaltending and defense.

Plenty more from Erickson, Pelech and coach Karl Taylor in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few more notes:
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Bakersfield 4, Reign 3.

Wednesday’s crowd was the smallest of the season for a home game – 4,670 – but fans weren’t booing. Until the third period, they had little reason to.

The Reign lost in regulation for the first time when leading after one period, and for the first time when leading after two, by surrendering three unanswered goals to the Condors in the third period.

The Condors have won 9 of 10 and showed why. They continued to pepper Beau Erickson (28 saves) even after falling behind 3-1 early in the third period when Brett O’Malley scored a rare goal during a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

The Reign killed off the rest of Bakersfield’s two-man advantage but couldn’t garner any momentum from it. The Condors continued to generate scoring chances with ease and Erickson could do little about goals by Brendan Milnamow (which was deflected en route), Evan Stoflet (on an unchallenged, short-handed breakaway) and Slava Trukhno (another deflection).

Lane Caffaro and Chaz Johnson had the other goals for the Reign, who have lost four in a row and 13 of 15 on home ice.

Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin for comments from Erickson, Caffaro and coach Karl Taylor.

Here are a few notes that won’t make the print editions:

Continue reading

Victoria 8, Reign 4.

The Reign’s two-game winning streak came crashing down Wednesday in Victoria, British Columbia with an 8-4 loss to the Salmon Kings. The eight goals allowed represent a season high and all were charged to goalie Kellen Briggs, who stopped 37 of 45 shots.

The Reign never led in the game but were still within striking distance after two periods, trailing 3-2 on a power-play goal by Lane Caffaro and an even-strength tally by Jeff Corey.

Yet they also failed to capitalize on a five-minute long power play late in the second, incurred when Victoria forward Rick Cleaver was charged with a major penalty for an illegal check to the head of Corey.

The floodgates opened in the third period, when Painchaud and former Reign forward Tim Kraus scored 25 seconds apart to make it 5-2. Nine seconds after Kraus’ goal, Brett O’Malley scored for the Reign to make it 5-3 at 8:44.

Reign defenseman Doug Krantz gave the Salmon Kings a 5-minute power play of their own when he was hit with a kneeing major and a game misconduct at 9:47. Victoria took advantage, getting a pair of goals to make it 7-3 before Alex Bourret answered with a short-handed goal for the Reign.

Painchaud completed the scoring with 4:38 left in the game.

The Reign (10-17-0-1) travel to Anchorage for a two-game series with the Alaska Aces beginning Friday.

Caffaro (goal, assist), O’Malley (goal), Corey (goal, assist), Pat Bowen and Dusty Collins were the only plus players for the Reign. Kyle Kraemer added an assist on Corey’s team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Rob Hennigar (four assists) and Matt Stefanishion (goal, three assists) had four-point games for Victoria, and Kraus added two assists to go along with his first goal of the season.

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.

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.