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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Van de Mosselaer debuts in a calm day of practice.

No sparks flew at Center Ice Arena this morning — literal or metaphorical — which must have been a welcome change of pace after yesterday’s on-ice dramatics. Both J.D. Watt and Francois Brisebois were back on the ice. Business as usual, it appeared.

Practice was uptempo again, with an emphasis on breakouts and offensive-zone puck movement. Jason Christie is looking for improvement from a power play that ranks 20th (last) in the ECHL and a penalty-kill that ranks 19th.

Adrian van de Mosselaer was present from start to finish for his first full practice of the season. The defenseman, who didn’t arrive in Ontario until this week, was huffing and puffing at times. He’ll need to get back in shape after being bedridden by mononucleosis for a full week not long ago; the good news is he’s got time.

The Reign will have seven active defensemen for the weekend; Christie will decide tomorrow which seven. Either Pat Bowen or Philippe Seydoux will make the trip to Colorado this weekend. Seydoux will go if he gets his P-1 visa approved in time. If not, count on Bowen making the trip.

Kyle Kraemer skated for about 40 minutes today. He isn’t engaging in contact yet, but that’s the next step. And that’s encouraging.

More from Van de Mosselaer in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

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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New defenseman (#16) and other notes.

Chris Huxley was the co-captain at Harvard University last year. He played on the Crimson’s top defensive pair with a recent NHL draft pick, Danny Biega. He once was presented an academic/athletic excellence award (the John Carlton Memorial Award) by former Boston Bruin Johnny Bucyk.

Now, he’s just a number. Number 16 in the line of defensemen who have been under contract to the Reign since July 1, and number (TBA) in your program tomorrow night against the Stockton Thunder.

“He’s one of those durable guys that can come in and have a little offensive side to him,” coach Jason Christie said. “He’s a competitor.”

Huxley will give the Reign six defensemen — three full pairs — for the first (and only) time since the opening weekend of the regular season. Pat Bowen isn’t ready to be rushed into game action and Philippe Seydoux still doesn’t have his P-1 (work) visa. Christie hopes both players will be ready to go by next week.

A few more notes:
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Morrison to Europe; defenseman/goalie updates.

There were no new defensemen in practice, so the Reign roster had find another way to fluctuate Tuesday.

Jordan Morrison, who led the Reign in scoring last season, informed coach Jason Christie yesterday that he was leaving for the Erste Bank Eishockeyliga (First Bank Ice Hockey League), the top league in Austria. That’s about all we know right now; I spoke to Morrison briefly and he’s still got a few loose ends to tie up here. Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin for more.

Morrison had no points and a minus-3 rating in three games this season.
He never seemed totally comfortable in Christie’s system and was squeezed out of
the center rotation (his natural position) by C.J. Stretch, Francois
Brisebois, Bill Bagron and newcomer Matt Tassone. Last season, Morrison rode a strong second half to finish with 20 goals and 55 points in 71 games.

The 25-year-old becomes the second player to head overseas since the season began. Defenseman Travis Gawryletz was the first.

Justin Taylor, who played 41 games for the Reign last season, also plays in the Austrian league for Ljubljana Olimpija HK.

A few more notes from practice:
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New defenseman, plus a Chad Starling update.

Vincent LoVerde is the Reign’s newest defenseman. The rookie out of Miami (Ohio) University averaged 1.5 goals and 7.5 assists in his four-year college career, which ended when the top-seeded RedHawks were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March.

LoVerde wasn’t at practice Thursday but Jason Christie said he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow night in Las Vegas. Eddie DelGrosso, who was claimed off waivers Wednesday, wasn’t at practice either and was still awaiting a physical. Christie is hopeful that DelGrosso can play, too.

Just to recap, then:

Jason Fredricks, Pat Bowen, Dylan Yeo, Chad Starling, Jordan Hill and Adrian van de Mosselaer signed over the summer. Jeff MacPhee, Iain McPhee and Travis Gawryletz signed during training camp. Steven Tarasuk, Mike Montgomery, Philippe Seydoux, JP Cote, Eddie DelGrosso and Vincent LoVerde either signed or were acquired through trade since the regular season began.

So even though the Reign have skated the same six defensemen in their first two regular-season games, 15 different blueliners have been under contract to the team since July 1.

Fifteen. Through two games. Let that sink in.
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Injuries piling up, more cuts, Berube assigned.

Monday was a big day of news for the Reign, and most of it was bad.

First, the very bad: Winger Kyle Kraemer and defenseman Pat Bowen will both start the season on injured reserve with lower-body injuries they suffered in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Las Vegas Wranglers. Both are expected to miss 2-6 weeks.

The growing list of injured players now includes defenseman Jason Fredricks (knee), defenseman Adrian van de Mosselaer (mononucleosis), Kraemer and Bowen. In addition, there is still no resolution to Chad Starling’s immigration issue, leaving the Reign without four of the seven defensemen they signed over the summer — five, if you include Jordan Hill, who is starting the season with AHL affiliate Manchester.

Depending on your point of view, it’s either a bad omen for the rest of the season or good timing. Including Mike Montgomery, a rookie out of Minnesota-Duluth whom Christie signed Monday, the Reign will be able to start the season with six defenseman (Dylan Yeo, Jeff MacPhee, Iain McPhee, Travis Gawryletz and Philippe Seydoux are the others). Once the others get healthy, and Starling is allowed to cross the border, Christie will have plenty of blue-line options at his disposal.
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Stretch, Bowen accept qualifying offers.

The Reign brought their number of returning players to eight Tuesday, announcing that defenseman Pat Bowen and C.J. Stretch had accepted qualifying offers. Both were complimentary players who finished the season stronger than they began as rookies in 2010-11.

Bowen had three goals, 13 points, 32 penalty minutes, and a minus-10 rating in 52 games. The former Merrimack College standout might not have been
outstanding at any one thing, but was playing reliable minutes in
power-play, penalty kill, and even-strength situations by the end of the season.

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Bowen adds a decent dose of size to a blue line that already includes 6-foot-6 veteran Chad Starling and 6-foot-2 Jason Fredricks. If there’s one thing missing from that trio, it’s scoring touch – the three combined for four goals between them last season. While those stats were limited by a lack of opportunity (Starling only appeared in 14 games, Fredricks 39) expect head coach Karl Taylor to target a potential power-play quarterback with his remaining blue line additions.

Stretch, a native of nearby Irvine, finished his first full pro season with nine goals and 21 points in 46 games. Always among the team’s most creative offensive players, he was
finally playing regular minutes, scoring consistently, and defending
reasonably well by the end of the season.  He also
single-handedly brought at least a dozen patrons to the stands at every
home game.

The 22-year-old joins a forward corps that includes center Jordan Morrison and winger Kyle Kraemer. That’s a group with plenty of offensive potential, but not much of a physical presence. As the forwards are concerned, it appears Taylor is addressing the need for power play candidates before the need for penalty killers.

Goalies Jase Weslosky and Beau Erickson also re-signed for 2011-12.

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.