Poll: Should the Reign bring back Pat Bowen?

The rundown on defenseman Pat Bowen:

2010-11 stats [career]: 3 goals, 13 points, 32 penalty minutes, -10 rating in 52 games.

Quote: “I feel like there’s only going up from here, once you get comfortable with the league. I think you’ll see a lot more of what you saw the past few weeks this season.”

Pros: By the end of his first pro season, Bowen was a versatile, strong-skating defenseman. He might not have been outstanding at any one thing, but was playing reliable minutes in power-play, penalty kill, and even-strength situations. He’ll be 26 next season but is learning the game and can reasonably expect to improve.

Cons: Bowen must still prove he can be consistent over a full 72-game season — especially in his assertiveness, his decision-making, and his ability to create scoring chances. He didn’t always finish his checks even though he has enough size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) to make it an asset at this level.

Pat Bowen post-season quotes.

Like Jason Fredricks, Pat Bowen was a rookie defenseman who might not have known what he was in for when he joined the Reign in a midseason trade. Injuries to Chad Starling, Luke Beaverson and Eric Doyle — as well as the defections of Matt Delahey and Lane Caffaro — forced Bowen to play in all situations at times when he clearly wasn’t ready to.

By the end of the season, he had become a more dependable player in his own zone, as well as a confident skater with plus speed (for the ECHL level). Bowen took his lumps but emerged upbeat when he left the rink for the last time Monday morning:
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Utah 5, Reign 1.

Tom May and the Utah Grizzlies capitalized on 10 power plays in a penalty-filled Reign loss in West Valley City.

May had three of the Grizzlies’ four power-play goals in a game that saw the Reign go 0-for-6 with the man advantage.

Goalie Mike Zacharias faced a 48-shot barrage and stopped 43 with last night’s starter, Beau Erickson, out due to injury. Oliver Freij, a local college student, served as the emergency backup.

James McEwan had 22 of the Reign’s 62 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a match penalty for fighting at 8:14 of the second period. Alex Bourret and Giffen Nyren fought twice; Jordan Hill fought former Reign defenseman Brian Kilburg; and Kyle Kraemer fought Marcus Carroll.

Utah collected 56 penalty minutes of its own in the final meeting between the two teams this season. Ryley Grantham, who had not collected a single penalty minute in his three previous games with the Grizzlies, was awarded 16 in a single third-period altercation with Luke Beaverson.

Defenseman Pat Bowen scored the Reign’s lone goal, at the end of an odd-man rush at 7:41 of the second period.

The scoresheet changed roughly a dozen times within a half-hour of last night’s game, so take this link with a grain of salt.

The Victoria Salmon Kings (27-2-91-2) lost 5-2 to the Bakersfield Condors to remain nine points ahead of the Reign (21-33-2-4, 48 points) in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The clock is ticking on the Reign’s season – they have 12 games left, Victoria has 13 left, and they need to make up at least nine points. Those odds are beyond long.

The Reign get four days off before hosting the Idaho Steelheads on Wednesday.

Some random off-day updates.

The Reign didn’t practice Monday, probably a wise decision after a stretch of three games in three days in Bakersfield that saw its share of injuries and illness sweep through the team.

For tomorrow’s notebook Jordan Morrison discussed his recent hot streak – 14 points in his last nine games, and 29 points in his last 29. He’s a natural center and simply wasn’t as comfortable playing the wing; he believes switching back to the middle was the key to his turnaround.

That raised an interesting point: There are a lot of natural centers on this team who have played a ton of wing this season. Aaron Lewadniuk, C.J. Stretch, Justin Taylor, Brett O’Malley and Michael Pelech come to mind. Shawn Collymore has basically split the season at center and left wing and it hasn’t seemed to affect his production. Other natural centers have filtered through the roster – Jon Francisco, Tim Kraus, Pierre-Andre Bureau, Luke Popko – and probably all of them had to shift over at some point. Dusty Collins may be the only natural center who never seems to move.

That might help explain why the team has been better at faceoffs this season. At the same time, Morrison acknowledged that switching from center to wing isn’t necessarily easy, especially for a rookie transitioning from junior to pro.

More on that in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few more tidbits from my interview this morning with Karl Taylor:
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Bakersfield 5, Reign 4, SO.

Stephane Goulet’s goal in the first shootout round was the difference in a back-and-forth game at Rabobank Arena.

The Reign fell 61 seconds short of a much-needed regulation win. Trailing 4-3 late in the game, Condors coach Marty Raymond called timeout and pulled starting goalie Brian Stewart for an extra attacker. Six seconds later, Joel Broda deposited a wrist shot over the glove of Beau Erickson to tie the game at 4.

Erickson could hardly be faulted for the loss. Making his second straight start, Erickson faced 53 shots over the first 65 minutes, then five more in the shootout, recording a season-high 49 saves. Shawn Collymore, Chaz Johnson, Aaron Lewadniuk and Brett O’Malley scored for the Reign (18-29-2-3, 41 points), who fell 10 points behind the victorious Victoria Salmon Kings in the race for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

By picking up the extra point, Bakersfield (25-23-2-1, 53 points) moved 12 points ahead of the Reign. Broda, Michael Gergen and Andrew Ianeiro scored the other goals for the Condors.

A few more notes:

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Reign 4, Utah 3, OT.

The Reign managed to take three of a possible six points from the Grizzlies, the first-place team in the other (Mountain) Division, on the strength of a Pat Bowen point shot that got through at 2:03 of overtime.

The Mountain trip isn’t over yet – its fourth and final game awaits tomorrow night against the Idaho Steelheads – but it’s off to a decent 1-1-1 start. The win allowed the Reign (14-26-1-2) to keep pace with the Victoria Salmon Kings (18-24-1-2) and remain eight points out of the seventh and final Western Conference playoff position with two games in hand.

And in the midst of an impossibly lousy season at home, it’s no small feat that the Reign are now 10-11-1-1 on the road. They can pull to .500 away from CBBA (ignoring the OT/SO columns) with a win in Boise.

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The turnover on defense (pun intended).

Quick, how many Reign defensemen who played Wednesday were on the team to start the season?
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Victoria 8, Reign 4.

The Reign’s two-game winning streak came crashing down Wednesday in Victoria, British Columbia with an 8-4 loss to the Salmon Kings. The eight goals allowed represent a season high and all were charged to goalie Kellen Briggs, who stopped 37 of 45 shots.

The Reign never led in the game but were still within striking distance after two periods, trailing 3-2 on a power-play goal by Lane Caffaro and an even-strength tally by Jeff Corey.

Yet they also failed to capitalize on a five-minute long power play late in the second, incurred when Victoria forward Rick Cleaver was charged with a major penalty for an illegal check to the head of Corey.

The floodgates opened in the third period, when Painchaud and former Reign forward Tim Kraus scored 25 seconds apart to make it 5-2. Nine seconds after Kraus’ goal, Brett O’Malley scored for the Reign to make it 5-3 at 8:44.

Reign defenseman Doug Krantz gave the Salmon Kings a 5-minute power play of their own when he was hit with a kneeing major and a game misconduct at 9:47. Victoria took advantage, getting a pair of goals to make it 7-3 before Alex Bourret answered with a short-handed goal for the Reign.

Painchaud completed the scoring with 4:38 left in the game.

The Reign (10-17-0-1) travel to Anchorage for a two-game series with the Alaska Aces beginning Friday.

Caffaro (goal, assist), O’Malley (goal), Corey (goal, assist), Pat Bowen and Dusty Collins were the only plus players for the Reign. Kyle Kraemer added an assist on Corey’s team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Rob Hennigar (four assists) and Matt Stefanishion (goal, three assists) had four-point games for Victoria, and Kraus added two assists to go along with his first goal of the season.

Reign 6, Las Vegas 5, OT.

For a moment there, the script seemed awfully familiar, the Reign squandering a two-goal lead to trail 5-4 midway through the third period.

What better time to reverse course, with the Christmas break behind them, two new teammates in uniform and, oh by the way, that unsightly record on home ice (2-11-0-1) they’ve been trying to get rid of all year.

Dusty Collins scored the tying goal at 13:13 of the third period, and Lane Caffaro took advantage of an overtime power play with the game-winner, lifting the Reign to a cathartic 6-5 win over the Wranglers before 6,296 at The Bank.

Pat Bowen, Kyle Kraemer, Chaz Johnson and Jeff Corey also scored for the Reign. Johnson also knocked Las Vegas starter Michael Ouzas out of the game at 7:49 of the second period, a collision that netted 17 minutes worth of penalties but brought emergency backup Archie Henderson off the bench. Henderson, who has bounced around quite a bit this season, stopped 19 of 22 in relief of Ouzas.

Kellen Briggs stopped 34 of 39 for the Reign, who welcomed former Wranglers right wing Alex Bourret (two assists) and welcomed back defenseman Shawn Germain (plus-2). The Reign scored three goals on the power play as did the Wranglers. More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

A couple more notes that won’t make the paper:
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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.