Traccitto, Popko cut as Reign make room.

Forward Luke Popko and defenseman Reggie Traccitto saw their respective tenures in Ontario end Friday.

Michael Pelech and Jordan Hill are expected to be added to the roster in time for tomorrow night’s game against the Alaska Aces, and Popko and Traccitto — both rookies — were determined the odd men out.

“They’re both very nice kids,” coach Karl Taylor said. “In my evaluations I had other people ahead of them. I was forced to make a decision.”

Traccitto had one assist and a team-low minus-5 rating this season, having appeared in all eight regular-season games. He had signed with the Reign in the summer following a strong 19-year-old season in the Ontario Hockey League.

“We’ve had some injury issues as well. If we were healthy, he probably wouldn’t have (played in every game),” Taylor said. “We probably would have worked him out of the lineup. But with Eric’s injury, and with Pat Bowen’s passport issue and having to put him on 21-day (IR), we haven’t had the opportunity to get him into it. When Jordan (Hill) came, we had to make a move.”

The 22-year-old Popko was scoreless with a minus-2 rating in three regular-season games, after going scoreless with a minus-1 rating in two preseason games.

Taylor said that the former Boston University standout was a “class act, an unbelievable person. … We just felt that other guys have shown more than he has. Doesn’t mean he’s not a good player, it just didn’t work out here.

“We wish them both all the best, they’re good kids.”

More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin, including reactions from Hill and Pelech.

Stockton 3, Reign 1. Update.

You can’t win ‘em all.

The Reign got their first loss of the season out of the way Friday, 3-1 to the Stockton Thunder at Stockton Arena. The good news? The home opener is tomorrow, and it’s the last time the Reign will face the Thunder until Jan. 21, 2011 after having played each other four times to start the season — six, if you include the preseason.

All four goals were scored on the power play. The Thunder went 3-for-8 with the man advantage and the Reign went 1-for-9. Chris D’Alvise (12:30 of the 1st period), Chris Lawrence (17:14 of the 1st) and Aaron Clarke (5:42 of the third) gave Stockton a comfortable 3-0 lead. Lawrence’s came during a 5-on-3 shift; the others came during 5-on-4 shifts.

With seven seconds left on their eighth power play of the night, the Reign finally solved Stockton netminder Tyson Sexsmith as Jon Francisco tipped a David Walker slap shot in at 12:02.

Reign goaltender Kellen Briggs (1-1) made some spectacular saves among his 29, but Sexsmith stopped 23 of the 24 shots that came his way.

Forward Pierre-Andre Bureau made his Reign (and professional) debut on a line with Francisco and Jeff Corey, and registered one shot on goal. Luke Popko and C.J. Stretch were the scratches. Newly-acquired goaltender Beau Erickson served as the backup to Briggs.

Update: Karl Taylor told the Stockton Record that the Reign’s nine penalties totaling 26 minutes were too much to overcome, including Luke Beaverson’s 10-minute misconduct, which followed a hooking call against the Reign defenseman and an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for disputing the initial call:

“You have to adjust to how the officials call a game, and they called it
tight both ways,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of
penalties we deserved, and the insurance goal turns out to be one where
we shoot our mouth off and get what we deserve. It was the right call.”

Reign add two rookies to camp roster.

So yeah, about those late roster adds I mentioned earlier …

Luke Popko is one.

The New Jersey native and U.S. Under-18 National Development team product is coming off a four-year career at Boston University, where he became known as a defensive specialist. BU is one of the NCAA’s premier programs and captured the Division I championship in 2009. Four of his college teammates already have NHL experience: Matt Gilroy, Brandon Yip, Colin Wilson and Nick Bonino.

Popko’s career has been unusually well-documented. See this blurb from 2005 and this one from March.

The other is Daniel Lombardi, a diminutive winger who just completed a five-year career in the Canadian junior leagues. Splitting last season between the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves and the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, Lombardi had six goals and 14 points in 22 games.

Both players are in camp on a tryout basis, along with Josh Newton, Gabriel Andre and Mike Thomson. They figure to have a small window of opportunity, especially once players begin arriving from the American Hockey League.

Tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin will offer a broad rundown on the first day of camp.

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