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.

Poll: Should the Reign bring back Luke Beaverson?

I’m going to keep the blog warm with a series of polls over the next few weeks. There will be one poll per day and the question will be simple: Do you want the Reign to bring back this player next season?

As a disclaimer, understand that constructing an ECHL roster depends on more than just a player’s individual skill set – things like payroll constraints, salary cap constraints, how many apartments the team has available (and related to that, whether a player is single or married), whether the player is a veteran (defined as anyone with at least 260 games of pro experience; each ECHL team can have up to four), how many NHL/AHL players are assigned to Ontario, etc.

There are probably a few more minor factors but those are the big ones.

Still, in general, it’s a more useful question with ECHL players than NHL players, because their contracts only last one year. Every club is virtually guaranteed at least 50 percent turnover from year to year, regardless of where they finished in the standings. Most players won’t be brought back – but who should be?

Going in alphabetical order, we start with Luke Beaverson.

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Luke Beaverson post-season quotes.

Luke Beaverson became the first player to announce his retirement Tuesday.

The 26-year-old defenseman said he plans to complete his bachelor’s degree from his native Minnesota, then move on to whatever’s next. The 2010-11 season was the best statistically of his three professional seasons. Beaverson appeared in 61 games, recording three goals, 10 assists and 78 penalty minutes — all career highs. His minus-5 rating matched James McEwan for the best among players who started and ended the season in Ontario, which is all the more impressive considering he often skated against the opposing team’s best forwards.

The soft-spoken veteran picked up some of the leadership slack when Chad Starling and Jon Francisco were lost for the season to injuries. At 6-foot-4, Beaverson was usually among the biggest players on the ice and will leave some big skates to fill.

Here’s how our (last?) interview went:

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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.

Bakersfield 7, Reign 3.

The Reign suffered their most lopsided loss in the last eight games, temporarily halting their momentum and dashing any plans of quickly gaining ground in the Western Conference standings.

The game slipped gradually away after goals by Luke Beaverson and Jordan Morrison 18 seconds apart gave the Reign a 2-1 lead at 2:48 of the second period. Beaverson’s goal, helped by a net-front screen by C.J. Stretch, avenged Pascal Morency’s first-period putback for Bakersfield.

Morrison completed a 2-on-1 breakaway thanks to a great cross pass from Chaz Johnson, with Doug Krantz picking up the second assist.

The rest was (almost) all Condors, who scored six unanswered goals to send the Reign to their ninth loss in 11 head-to-head meetings this season. Morency and Guillaume Levebvre scored two goals apiece, and linemate Brad Snetsinger finished with three assists. Three others scored one goal apiece.

Shawn Collymore completed the scoring with a quick wrist shot past Brian Stewart (27 saves) with 34 seconds left, his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Beau Erickson was the hard-luck loser. He had to face a season-high 53 shots for the second straight night, finishing with 46 saves.

The two teams play again at 6 p.m. Sunday in Bakersfield.

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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Stockton 4, Reign 1.

The third period doomed the Reign for the second straight night, as the red-hot Stockton Thunder rolled to their seventh straight win Saturday at Stockton Arena.

A 1-1 game was blown open on third-period goals by Craig Valette (3:08), Jesse Gimblett (4:51) and Jarrett Konkle (17:20). That spoiled the return of Mike Zacharias to the Reign, after the goalie was claimed off waivers earlier in the week.

Wearing his familiar black mask, Zacharias stopped 30 shots, but got no help from a Reign attack that was outshot 34-15.

Reign coach Karl Taylor adjusted his line combinations after Friday’s 7-2 loss, a game in which the Thunder scored four goals in the final period. Left wing Alex Bourret and center Jordan Morrison were broken up for the first time since Bourret arrived from the Asian League. Bourret skated with C.J. Stretch at center at Chaz Johnson at right wing; Morrison centered Shawn Collymore and Kyle Kraemer; and Michael Pelech centered Brett O’Malley and Aaron Lewadniuk.

Only a wrister by defenseman Luke Beaverson, at 12:53 of the first period, was able to elude Bryan Pitton (14 saves). It was the third goal of the year for Beaverson, and his first after spending almost a month on injured reserve with a lower-body ailment.

The Reign’s last big chance came with 6:15 left in a 3-1 game, when Jim McKenzie was hit with a 2-minute tripping penalty. With 38 seconds left in the power play, however, Johnson was penalized for slashing, and Lane Caffaro was whistled for high-sticking 49 seconds later. The ensuing power play led to Stockton’s fourth goal – the Thunder’s only goal in four man-advantage shifts.

The two teams meet again at CBBA on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Stockton 7, Reign 2.

Coming off their first shutout of the season, the Reign surrendered seven goals – one off their season high – and their modest four-game point streak came to an end in a flurry of fisticuffs Friday at Stockton Arena.

There were plenty of goals, but also seven fights – two by Doug Krantz (against Craig Valette and Jordan Foreman), and one each for David Walker, Aaron Lewadniuk, Michael Pelech, Luke Beaverson and Chaz Johnson. Garet Hunt and Jordan Fulton were involved in two fights each for Stockton.

Trailing 3-2 on goals by Shawn Collymore and Jordan Morrison heading into the final period, the Reign surrendered two goals in the first two minutes. Stockton scored twice more, at 12:53 and 16:34, and four fights broke out after that.

The Reign (13-23-0-2) were outshot 14-5 in the final period, which didn’t make life easy on Beau Erickson. The goalie was in net for all seven Thunder goals and stopped 24 shots. Mike Zacharias served as the backup in his return to the Reign.

The Thunder (19-11-2-4) have won six straight and are averaging 4.8 goals per game during the streak. The teams meet again tomorrow at Stockton Arena before concluding the 3-in-3 in Ontario on Sunday.

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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