Reign hit hard with suspensions.

The Reign will be forced to play without their leading goal scorer, their top fighter and their highest-scoring defenseman for the near future.

The ECHL suspended right wing Derek Couture for five games, left wing Chris Cloud for four games and defenseman Steven Tarasuk for three games as “a result of actions prior to” Saturday night’s 6-4 victory over the Utah Grizzlies. Cloud was also suspended a fifth game “under
Rule #23.7, which states any player who incurs a total of three (3) game
misconduct penalties for fighting-related infractions shall be
automatically suspended for his team’s next game.

All three players were fined, as were head coach Jason Christie and the Reign organization.

The league also suspended Grizzlies defenseman Cody Lampl (four games), center Jordan Foreman (four games), and defenseman Matt Sorteberg (three games). They were fined along with two other Utah players (center Mitch Wahl and defenseman Nick Tuzzolino), coach Kevin Colley and the Grizzlies organization.

After Saturday’s game, Colley said that Reign players were “shooting slapshots down at our guys in warmup.” Reign coach Jason Christie said Monday that pucks were flying in both directions during the warmup period, and he was not disappointed with his team’s response.

Messages left for Christie and Reign president Justin Kemp were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

Couture, Cloud, Tarasuk, Lampl, Foreman and Sorteberg all received fighting majors and game misconducts. The game-misconduct penalties will be counted toward each player’s suspension, meaning Couture and Cloud are eligible to return next Wednesday against Stockton, and Tarasuk is eligible to return this Saturday against Utah.
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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.

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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Reign 3, Stockton 2, shootout.

Darcy Kuemper was victorious in his ECHL debut and Geoff Irwin’s forehand past Olivier Roy was the game-winner in the Reign’s first win of the season Saturday night.

C.J. Stretch and Steven Tarasuk also scored shootout goals for the Reign (1-1), who get a respite until traveling to Vegas next Friday. Kuemper stopped 28 of 30 shots.

Bill Bagron deposited a beautiful backhand feed from Dylan Yeo at 16:12 of the second period for the game’s first goal. Francois Brisebois got the Reign’s only power-play goal in six tries with 3.5 seconds left in the middle period. Standing in front of the crease, he took a Derek Couture pass from behind the net – then took a shot in the back after poking the puck between the pads of Olivier Roy (33 saves).

Bagron and Brisebois both have two goals on the season.

Head coach Jason Christie liked the overall effort better than Friday’s.

“They stuck their nose in there and made some good plays,” he said. “That’s a key at this level – you have to win the battles. We’re losing battles down low, and it’s a rush against. We definitely have to make sure we get better on that.”

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. Here are a few more observations:

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Season-opening rosters released; new D-man; Seydoux out.

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:

Derek Couture-Jordan Morrison-Francois Brisebois
J.D. Watt/Geoff Irwin-C.J. Stretch-Shayne Neigum
Chris Cloud/August Aiken-Bill Bagron-Brady Calla

The season-opening roster contained no surprises (except that Mike Montgomery, who has skated exclusively as a defenseman, was listed as a forward:

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