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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Christie suspended one game and other notes.

Reign coach Jason Christie was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount Tuesday by the ECHL. The coach was hardly surprised, after he grabbed the shirt of linesman Steven Walsh late in the third period of Sunday’s 2-0 loss.

Assistant Mark Hardy will be the only coach behind the Reign bench Thursday in Las Vegas. It’s the first time Hardy has been in that position since 1995, when he was on injured reserve as a defenseman for the IHL’s Detroit Vipers and then-Vipers coach Rick Dudley asked Hardy to coach 19 games.

Christie hasn’t been suspended by the ECHL since receiving a three-game ban in 2001 when, as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen, he was involved in an altercation with the opposing coach during a game.

Plenty more from Christie in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

A few more notes from practice:
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Emptying out the notebook.

It’s been an unusually busy week in hockey, both locally and nationally, keeping this reporter on his toes a tad more.

Then Jason Christie grabbed a linesman’s shirt Sunday night.

There was no word out of the ECHL offices Monday whether or not Christie will face supplementary discipline. Expect that decision to be handed down tomorrow or Wednesday. The Reign visit the Las Vegas Wranglers on Thursday.

One bright spot in the Reign’s 2-0 loss Sunday was the continued progression of goalie Chris Carrozzi, who will be the focus of tomorrow’s notebook on Page 2 of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. In short, dude’s had a rough start to the season. Somewhat reminiscent of Beau Erickson last year.

Here are a few things that won’t make the notebook (but are still newsworthy):
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Yeo, Montgomery get AHL call-ups.

Four days after JP Cote became the first Reign player recalled to the American Hockey League, defensemen Dylan Yeo and Mike Montgomery found out they will be joining him soon. On Tuesday, Yeo was loaned to the Oklahoma City Barons and Montgomery to the St. John’s IceCaps.

When healthy, Yeo and Montgomery skated on the same pair and played significant minutes for the Reign. Yeo, the team captain, provided the speed and the offense (one goal and eight assists in eight games). Montgomery added size and the physical presence around the net. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound rookie was scoreless with a minus-4 rating through 14 games.
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Carlson is released, injury updates.

Four folding chairs sat in a row leading into the Reign locker room Tuesday, the makeshift “lockers” painting a plain picture that space was suddenly at a premium.

Locker-room space, of course, relates directly to salary-cap space and roster space, and that meant Dustin Carlson’s stay as the Reign’s third goalie ended Tuesday. Carlson was released in advance of tonight’s game against the Stockton Thunder, in which Darcy Kuemper is expected to start and J-F Berube to back up.

“Practice time is huge, and it’s tough having three goaltenders,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “Sometimes you have to adjust. We’re getting players healthy here, so it comes down to cap space and having guys active. That’s the reality we’re looking at.”

Carlson went 0-1 with a 4.16 goals-against average and a .857 save percentage in two appearances this season. Both appearances came last weekend in Alaska, coming off the bench after the Aces had a big first period against Berube and the Reign.

A longshot to make the team after joining camp on a tryout, Carlson was retained as an unofficial emergency backup in case of injury or promotion to Berube or Darcy Kuemper. The Wild recalled Kuemper to the NHL last weekend, giving Carlson his lone, brief opportunity in the crease before Kuemper returned to Ontario (more on that in a future blog).

So who are the injured players and when will they come back? The latest updates, ranked by this beat writer’s predicted order of return (soonest to farthest away):
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Kuemper is back, flu bug, other notes from practice.

Goalie Darcy Kuemper was back for practice Tuesday, after
spending the weekend with the Minnesota Wild for games against the Kings and
the Ducks. Kuemper didn’t play for the Wild but he got to experience the NHL
for two days, and will “probably” get the start tomorrow against Stockton,
Reign coach Jason Christie said.
 

Philippe Seydoux (flu) was the only player not on the ice.
Apparently the flu has hit a few players, as road trips to Alaska always have
potential to turn a slight cough into a mild epidemic. No word yet on Seydoux’s
availability for tomorrow.

Got our first look at Tristan King, the Dallas Stars prospect
who was assigned to the Reign prior to the Alaska trip. King, who had one goal
and two assists in the three-game series, “is a player that has just got to
push himself a little bit, Christie said. “His skill is something that he’s -
that’s what he’s got, but he’s got to come in and play both ends of the ice
hard.”

King skated with Brady Calla and Matt Tassone over the
weekend, but not Tuesday.

Dylan Yeo was wearing a red (non-contact) jersey and
participated in nearly all aspects of practice, but it doesn’t look like he’ll
be back tomorrow. If that’s the case, expect defenseman JP Cote to wear a
letter again – just not the captain’s “C” he wore in Alaska. The team didn’t
have an “A” to stitch on the road sweaters; otherwise Cote would have worn one.
He’ll get one tomorrow with the Reign at home.

Pick up tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin if you want to read about the emergence of the team’s leading scorer.

Here were the line rushes and defense pairs in practice:

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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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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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Colorado 4, Reign 3, OT.

Here’s how a 3-1 lead turns into a 4-3 overtime loss:

1. A short pass goes off a Reign stick and onto a Colorado stick. Shot, goal.
2. A hard pass goes off a Reign skate (possibly a body) and into the net.
3. An ill-timed line change results in an odd-man rush the other way for Colorado. A long, high shot — the Eagles’ only shot of overtime — goes into the top of the net.

Plenty of bad luck was involved in the final outcome, but it’s easier to say the Reign squandered a point Saturday than gained one. Leading 3-1 going into the third period, Colorado converted back-to-back power plays on a pair of good bounces to tie the game at 3. Luck aside, the same stifling defense that the Reign used in the first two periods (and in Friday’s win over Stockton) was conspicuously absent from the third period Saturday.

“We’re not stepping into the shot. Sticks weren’t into the lanes,” head coach Jason Christie said when talking about the overtime goal, but he may as well have been discussing the third period too.

Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. The Reign will visit the scrappy first-year ECHL franchise Friday and Saturday in Colorado, their first back-to-back road games of the season.

Some notes and observations:
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