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.
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.
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.
The Citizens Business Bank Arena ice was covered in tile Thursday morning for a graduation ceremony. That meant the Reign packed up and headed for Riverside Ice Town for the first, last and only off-site skate of training camp.
Iain McPhee didn’t make the drive down, but Jason Christie said the defenseman will play in tomorrow’s season opener against Bakersfield. Philippe Seydoux, who was able to play in the preseason on a tryout but still doesn’t have his U.S. B1 work visa, will not.
“Hopefully he’ll get cleared by Monday,” Christie said. “You’re allowed to play on a tryout, but you can’t play in the regular season without the right paperwork for immigration.”
One transaction was announced after practice: Second-year defenseman Steven Tarasuk was acquired from the Wheeling Nailers for cash. The 21-year-old Tarasuk had four goals and 25 points in 65 games as a rookie with the Kalamazoo Wings last season. A native of Thornhill, Ont., Tarasuk also had one assist in three regular-season games with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and three assists in four ECHL playoff games last season. He fits the mold of the offensively skilled defenseman that Christie was seeking; Tarasuk had 19 goals and 67 points in 67 games in his final junior season for a powerhouse 2009-10 London Knights squad.
The five defensemen on the ice rotated partners. Here were the line rushes: