Reign 5, Stockton 4, OT.

Chaz Johnson’s wrist shot past Tyson Sexsmith at 3:53 of overtime lifted the Reign to a 5-4 win before 5,769 at Stockton Arena.

Jeff Corey, Aaron Lewadniuk, Eric Doyle and Jon Francisco scored goals in regulation for the Reign (2-0-0), who got 26 saves from goaltender Martin Jones in his professional debut. Jordan Morrison and Matt Delahey each had two assists.

Stockton (0-1-1) surrendered leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 despite a 27-save effort from Sexsmith, who was playing his second game in as many nights.

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

Zemlak traded to Kalamazoo, Lombardi cut.

The Reign’s roster is set, and Kellen Briggs and Martin Jones are the goalies.

Goaltender Garrett Zemlak and forward Daniel Lombardi were not on the Reign’s opening-day roster submitted to the ECHL today, giving the Reign 20 players in advance of Friday’s regular-season opener in Stockton. Zemlak was traded to the Kalamazoo Wings for future considerations, and Lombardi was released from his pro tryout.

Here’s what Karl Taylor had to say about the goalie scenario:
Continue reading “Zemlak traded to Kalamazoo, Lombardi cut.” »

And then there were three.

The Reign traded goalie Mike Zacharias to the Idaho Steelheads for future considerations Tuesday, leaving only Kellen Briggs and Garrett Zemlak to compete for the vacant goalie spot alongside Kings prospect Martin Jones.

The 25-year-old Zacharias spent his first professional
season with the Reign last year, appearing in 24 games and finishing
the season 10-6-3 with an .894 save percentage and a goals-against
average of 3.28. Zacharias lost the No. 1 mantle to Curtis Darling early
in the season, saw more ice time late in the season and was
instrumental in the Reign’s late playoff push, but was on the bench
again to start the season-ending series in Las Vegas.

In Idaho, Zacharias figures to split time with Dallas Stars prospect Tyler Beskorowany. The Steelheads, a Stars affiliate, released a pair of goalies on Tuesday, Tim Haun and Michael-Lee Teslak. Their online training camp roster also included goalies Billy Blase and Doug Melvin as of Tuesday afternoon.

Monday’s practice notes; updating the roster picture.

The Reign had a full complement of 23 bodies in practice Monday, a group that figures to get smaller soon.

Coach Karl Taylor said he must submit his roster to the ECHL by noon Wednesday, but “usually we try to do it on Tuesday, just to get everything in order.”
Continue reading “Monday’s practice notes; updating the roster picture.” »

Morrison, Jones coming to Reign.

Jordan Morrison and Martin Jones are coming to the Reign.

Morrison, a forward, was cut from his training-camp tryout with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs while Jones, a goalie, was assigned by the Kings as expected. It’s unknown if they will go straight to Stockton in advance of Friday’s game against the Thunder, or come to Ontario and suit up Saturday against the Thunder – or if either player will be even ready in time for either game.

Regardless, Morrison and Jones will soon bring the number of bodies in camp to 23. Only 20 can dress for each game, but Reign coach Karl Taylor said that one player is nursing an undisclosed injury and another is still awaiting clearance to play.

More about the two preseason games in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

It also means that veteran center Dusty Collins and rookie defenseman Jordan Hill passed their AHL tryouts in San Antonio and Manchester, respectively. The Reign retain the ECHL rights to both players and both will come to Ontario if dropped by their respective teams.

Hextall: Sending Jones to Ontario ‘would be the right thing to do.’

The Reign’s goalie trio of Kellen Briggs, Mike Zacharias and Garrett Zemlak seems
likely to become a quartet soon.

When Kings goalie Erik Ersberg cleared waivers and was
assigned to AHL affiliate Manchester on Tuesday, Ersberg was poised to join
Jeff Zatkoff and rookie Martin Jones on the Monarchs’ roster.

There’s only room for two goalies, so I asked Kings
assistant general manager Ron Hextall about the situation. A former NHL goalie
himself, Hextall also serves as the Monarchs’ general manager.

“If everything goes as planned — we’ve got some things to
talk about — Erik would be (in Manchester), one of the young guys would be
there, and we’d be looking to assign one guy to Ontario. That’s the initial
plan,” he said.
Continue reading “Hextall: Sending Jones to Ontario ‘would be the right thing to do.’” »

Kellen Briggs returns.

Kellen Briggs, one of the original members of the inaugural 2008-09 Reign squad, is returning to Ontario.

Briggs spent all of 2009-10 in Germany with the Dresdner Eislöwen of the second-tier Bundesliga. He went 23-22-0 with five shutouts and a 2.81 goals-against average in 46 games.

As a rookie with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads in 2007-08, Briggs went 17-11-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average and was named to the National Conference All-Star team. He signed with the Reign the following summer but was quickly shelved by a serious groin injury, which he suffered in the team’s second preseason game.

Briggs didn’t make his Reign debut until January 2009, but proceeded to go 7-5 with a .927 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average. His save percentage and goals-against average – albeit over just 12 games – are still the lowest by a Reign goalie in a single season.

Briggs’ time in the ECHL ended with a call-up to the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates in February 2009. Briggs went 3-3 with a .903 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average for Portland.

I spoke briefly with Briggs by phone this afternoon; he was driving to his family’s home in Colorado and said that he was “excited to be back.” Expect a longer interview in this space sometime Monday.

With Briggs in the picture, it will be interesting to see who ends up sharing the goaltending duties. The Reign have already signed free agent Garrett Zemlak for the upcoming season, and could still receive Kings prospect Martin Jones.

Zemlak signs with Reign.

The Reign have one piece of their next goaltending tandem in place.

Twenty-one year-old Garrett Zemlak is coming off a four-year career in the Western Hockey League, the last two years of which were spent with the Prince Albert Raiders. The Saskatoon native also appeared in three games late last season for the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers, going 2-0-1 with a 2.15 GAA and .929 save percentage.

Zemlak was probably enticed by the possibility of a tryout with the Kings, telling the Prince Albert Daily Herald that he expects to start the season with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. In Manchester, Zemlak would probably split time with former Reign netminder Jeff Zatkoff; Jonathan Bernier, the Monarchs’ 2009-10 starter, is expected to gain a promotion to the NHL this season.

Kings goaltending prospect Martin Jones must also find a team, as his time in junior is up. Will Jones form a tandem with Zemlak in Ontario next season, or skip straight to the AHL? Will Zemlak be joined by another free-agent goaltender? Those questions will likely be answered in training camp.

With Prince Albert, Zemlak was named the team’s most outstanding player last season, going 26-25-4 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. From 2006-08, Zemlak played for the Saskatoon Blades. During his four seasons in the Western Hockey League, he went 54-49-6 with five shutouts, a 3.31 goals-against average, and an .896 save percentage in 127 games.