Change on D, other notes from practice.

Monday’s practice at Citizens Business Bank Arena was the last for Sean Murray in a Reign uniform, at least for now.

Murray was released Monday afternoon, probably not coincidentally the same day Mike Montgomery was released from his tryout contract with the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros. The timing of the move suggests that Montgomery could well be in the lineup Wednesday, when the Reign host the Las Vegas Wranglers.

In five games with the Reign, playing exclusively as a third-pair defenseman, Murray was scoreless with a minus-1 rating. Montgomery was a minus-5 with no points in 18 games for the Reign during two separate stints.

A couple more notes from practice:
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Alaska 3, Reign 1.

The Reign kicked off their three-game weekend series in Alaska on Friday down two men and two goals.

The Aces walked away with a 3-1 win despite being outshot 34-24. Kevin Estrada scored the Reign’s only goal at 7:41 of the third period. It was his first of the season, his first since the 2009-10 season in Germany, and his first in the ECHL since April 10, 2008 as a member of the Victoria Salmon Kings.

Per the Anchorage Daily News account, Estrada “walked out of the right corner, made it to the net and jammed a shot on [Alaska goalie Gerald]
Coleman, who had the paddle of his stick down along the ice. Estrada
jammed his own rebound through Coleman to cut Alaska’s lead to 2-1.”

That was as close as the Reign would get. Three minutes and one second later, Wes Goldie scored his 12th goal of the season to make it 3-1. Steve Ward and Gary Nunn scored power-play goals in the second period for the Aces (19-4-1-1), who finished 2-for-5 on the power play.

The Reign (12-10-1-1) are stuck in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, third in the Pacific Division, and failed to gain ground on the second-place Stockton Thunder, who lost 6-2 to Idaho earlier in the night.

Chris Carrozzi stopped 21 of 24 shots. J-F Berube made his first appearance (albeit on the bench) since sustaining a neck injury in practice last month.

Forward Matt Tassone (back) did not accompany the Reign on the trip. Shayne Neigum skated at forward, giving the Reign nine forwards and five defensemen. The 14 skaters are two below the ECHL maximum.

Reign 2, Bakersfield 1.

Matt Tassone and Geoff Irwin scored the goals and Darcy Kuemper was Darcy Kuemper, making the easy saves look easy and the hard saves look easy while barely missing out on a shutout. He stopped 35 of 36.

Kuemper and the Reign should be glad they survived a night in which they were short-handed nine times, including all of the final 1:58. Bakersfield cashed in during a 6-on-3 shift when Justin Pender scored with 1:02 left but that was it for the Condors, who have lost eight in a row.

Check out the game story in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin. A few notes that won’t make the print edition:
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Reign 4, Bakersfield 1.

The Reign are on a roll.

There wasn’t much to complain about after a 4-1 win that saw four players score goals, a perfect 7-for-7 effort on the penalty kill and a 2-for-4 power play performance. Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves and didn’t have to be spectacular in improving to 4-0-0 on the season.

Matt Tassone, C.J. Stretch, Chris Cloud and Bill Bagron scored the goals. Steven Tarasuk had two assists, while Shayne Neigum, Brady Calla, Francois Brisebois and Bagron had one each. Bagron also finished a plus-2 on the evening.

The win was the Reign’s third straight (during which they’ve outscored opponents 14-4) and their fourth in the last five games (a 4-0-1 stretch).

No home games for another eight days, but the Reign are in Alaska Friday, Saturday and Sunday for three games against the Aces.

Election night meant early deadlines, which meant I didn’t have as much time as usual after this game for quote- and information-gathering, but here’s a few items that won’t make tomorrow’s game story:

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Odds, ends, and a scrum in practice.

Dylan Yeo called it a couple weeks ago.

“I’m sure
later on in the year there will be a couple fights like any family will have,” the Reign captain said.
“It comes with being a hockey player. It’s something to push through. When
you’re on the ice, it’s all business and you’re a family again.”

J.D. Watt, Francois Brisebois and the rest of the Reign can spend the afternoon pushing through an on-ice scuffle between the two players that got Watt kicked out of practice immediately, and saw Brisebois hobble off the ice a bit later with what can only be described at a glance as a “lower-body injury.”

Coach Jason Christie’s assessment: “It’s intense and that stuff happens. We’ve got to see how to approach it and how to deal with it. Hopefully Bris is all right. But you have those emotions run high. Especially the practices we’re doing here, running and gunning. The way it happened, I wasn’t a big fan of it. Especially how it did happen. Bris was not in the wrong there. We’ll cross that bridge here. We’ll go back, have a meeting about it, and go from there.”

Watt, to his credit, was willing to talk about it after practice.

“It happens,” Watt said. “Guys get intense. It was a heat-of-the-moment practice kind of thing. You never want to hurt anyone. I think Brisebois’ all fine. I talked to him afterwards. … Everyone does things they probably wish they wouldn’t do. Teams win games because they’re competitive, and you practice like you play. … Not to say you go out there to do that kind of stuff, but in the heat of the moment it happens.”

We’ll see how this plays out. If Yeo is correct, they’ll all be one big happy family before long.

A few more notes:
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Reign 4, Stockton 2.

The Reign had a full week off since their last game and the practice seemed to pay off. They never trailed in their 4-2 win Friday, getting goals from Steven Tarasuk, C.J. Stretch, Matt Tassone and Francois Brisebois. Darcy Kuemper allowed a pair of breakaway goals to Ian O’Connor but made all the routine saves, and one amazing save in the final minute, among his 21 stops.

The power play finished 2-for-4 on the goals by Tarasuk and Stretch — the first goal of the year for both players — after going 2-for-22 to start the season. Dylan Yeo had two assists and Tassone, Tarasuk, Brisebois, Stretch, Brady Calla and Chris Huxley (making his Reign debut) had one assist each. Huxley was paired with Vincent LoVerde and both defensemen finished plus-2 for the game.

Christie had words of praise for Huxley, as well as a strong overall forechecking effort that stifled Stockton at even strength.

Derek Couture fought Garet Hunt in the first period (advantage: Couture), Shayne Neigum fought O’Connor in the second period (advantage: O’Connor), and Stretch nearly came to blows with Jordan Fulton late in the first period. A scrum just after the final horn sounded was broken up before it could fully materialize.

J-F Berube gets the start tomorrow.

Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin for more. Here’s the official scoresheet.

European merry-go-round begins.

The season is early, but the score looks good: Reign 2, Europe 1.

Travis Gawryletz was suspended by the team on Monday after the defenseman headed to the Czech Republic to play for HC Energie Karlovy Vary. Wikipedia notes that Karlovy Vary is “a spa city situated in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplám,” so good for Travis.

In addition to defenseman Philippe Seydoux, who is already on the roster but still waiting for his B-1 (work) visa, the Reign added another European import. Defenseman JP Cote comes to the Reign via the DEL, the highest league in Germany, where he split the last two seasons between the Hamburg Freezers and the Kassel Huskies. The 29-year-old returned to the American Hockey League this season for a training-camp tryout with the Abbotsford Heat, but was recently cut.

Cote played in the AHL from 2003-09 before heading to Europe, interrupted only by an eight-game stint with the Montreal Canadiens in 2005-06. If he appears in a game with the Reign he will become the first player with prior NHL playing experience, excluding preseason games, to suit up for the franchise. Listed at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, he’ll be hard to miss.

More on his NHL time in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

One other newcomer to practice Tuesday: Center Matt Tassone, a 2008 draft pick by the Dallas Stars who wasn’t given a qualifying offer after taking part in the Stars’ NHL camp this year. Tassone was limited by injuries to 32 games last year with the Idaho Steelheads, the Stars’ ECHL affiliate, scoring seven goals and 10 points.

A few more notes:

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