Loktionov to Reign, Beaverson in, Pelech under pressure.

The Kings are expected to assign Manchester Monarchs forward Andrei Loktionov to the Reign for the purpose of bringing him to Southern California in advance of their game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Neither the Kings nor the Reign have made an official announcement yet, and it’s doubtful that Loktionov will have time to suit up for the Reign’s game tonight against the Bakersfield Condors.

Even if he does play tonight, Loktionov won’t be in Ontario long. If Kings forward Wayne Simmonds, who injured his knee Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, is healthy enough to play Thursday, Loktionov is expected to be sent back to Manchester. If Simmonds can’t play, then Loktionov will be added to the Kings’ roster. Simmonds participated in a full practice Wednesday and is “a possibility,” according to Kings coach Terry Murray.

Here’s what we know: Beau Erickson will be the starter in goal tonight against Bakersfield, defenseman Luke Beaverson will return to the Reign’s lineup for the first time since Dec. 17, and defenseman Doug Krantz will be scratched from the lineup.
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Collins to Manitoba, and other notes from practice.

For a player who spent all of last season, and most of the season before, in the American Hockey League, Dusty Collins’ time with the Reign certainly figured to be on loan.

The center officially got word Sunday that he’s heading back to the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, leaving the Reign without one of their top defensive forwards and faceoff-circle experts.

“Dusty played there for two years. They know him well. It’s not like he’s going in on a tryout — they know what they’re getting,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said.

The Moose have four games this week — Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — all at home. It could be that the Moose merely needed an extra body and called on a familiar name, or Collins could be in Winnipeg for a longer haul. Regardless, expect him to be gone at least a week.

Plenty more from Monday’s practice in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

All six defensemen on the active roster were skating, and Luke Beaverson took part in his second full-contact practice (but the first in which he engaged in any significant contact).

Without Collins, here’s how the forwards skated:

Alex Bourret – Jordan Morrison – Shawn Collymore
Brett O’Malley – C.J. Stretch – Chaz Johnson
Justin Taylor – Michael Pelech – Aaron Lewadniuk
James McEwan – Kyle Kraemer

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:
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A couple notes from practice.

The Reign skated at Center Ice Arena today (they were kicked out of CBBA for the filming of a commercial) and worked quite a bit on special teams.

Luke Beaverson skated in a red (non-contact) jersey. Karl Taylor wouldn’t rule out Beaverson returning Wednesday, depending on how his lower-body injury reacts to Monday’s skate. Still, expect a trade to be announced between now and then, with “future considerations” leaving town for an established D-man.

I talked plenty with Taylor about the penalty kill for the notebook that will appear in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. One note that won’t make the paper – a shootout drill at the end of practice left spirits remarkably high. You wouldn’t have known this is a team that’s lost six straight.

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.

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.

Bakersfield 4, Reign 1.

The line of ex-NHLer Kyle Calder, and ex-AHLers Bobby Robins and Joel Broda, combined for two goals and five assists on a night that saw the start time pushed back nearly half an hour because the Condors’ team bus was late to The Bank.

Kyle Kraemer scored the Reign’s only goal at 5:14 of the second period.

Newcomer Alan Dorich saw regular ice time early on a pairing with Luke Beaverson and shot a puck off the end boards that led directly to Kraemer’s goal. Not a bad debut.

But the Reign as a team didn’t get shots to the net with consistency until the third period, when they outshot the Condors 13-10. Prior to that they had only eight shots on net – including two in the second period – to Bakersfield’s 17.

Kellen Briggs stopped 23 shots but let in a pair of uncharacteristically easy goals, while former NHL goalie Josh Tordjman stopped 20 on the other end for Bakersfield.

The eight-place Reign fell six points behind the seventh-place Condors in the Western Conference standings. Bakersfield has handed the Reign two straight losses by the same score; the teams play again tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

The Reign went 0-for-5 on the power play, including 0-for-3 in the third period, to extend their stretch of futility with the man advantage to 2-for-40 in their last seven games.

“We’re working hard, we just have to get the puck in the net,” Kraemer said. “I’m confident, and so are the guys in the locker room, that we can get out of this funk.”

More from Kraemer and coach Karl Taylor in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

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.

Sizing up Sullivan.

This weekend’s three-game series between the Reign and Alaska Aces is a homecoming of sorts for defenseman Luke Beaverson, who called Sullivan Arena home during his four-year career at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Sullivan is notable for being the only rink in the ECHL’s Western Conference (it’s also believed to be the only pro rink in North America) with Olympic dimensions. Unlike the 85-by-200-foot playing surface used by most North American teams (including the Reign), an Olympic rink is 98 feet wide.

“Every time you think you’re running out of room, you’ve got an extra five feet, Beaverson said. “Defensively and offensively, that can be an advantage if you’re driving wide on a guy, and a D-man like me who’s been used to playing on an NHL-sized rink, got an extra five feet wide.

“The guy can beat you wide. There’s a lot of extra room out there. The corners are deeper. It’s just a little different.”
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Alaska 5, Reign 2.

The Reign started weakly, pushed back to forge a tie in the second period, then allowed two breakaway goals and an empty-netter in the final period to see their losing streak reach seven games.

The Aces broke a 2-2 tie with goals by Alex Dzielski and Ethan Cox, on a pair of odd-man rushes 56 seconds apart in the third period. All that did was ruin a Reign comeback from an early 2-0 deficit on second-period goals by Luke Beaverson and Matt Delahey.

Kellen Briggs made 27 saves for the Reign (2-6-1), who travel to Anchorage this week to get some revenge on the Aces (7-2-0-0).

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