Stockton 3, Reign 1. Update.

You can’t win ‘em all.

The Reign got their first loss of the season out of the way Friday, 3-1 to the Stockton Thunder at Stockton Arena. The good news? The home opener is tomorrow, and it’s the last time the Reign will face the Thunder until Jan. 21, 2011 after having played each other four times to start the season — six, if you include the preseason.

All four goals were scored on the power play. The Thunder went 3-for-8 with the man advantage and the Reign went 1-for-9. Chris D’Alvise (12:30 of the 1st period), Chris Lawrence (17:14 of the 1st) and Aaron Clarke (5:42 of the third) gave Stockton a comfortable 3-0 lead. Lawrence’s came during a 5-on-3 shift; the others came during 5-on-4 shifts.

With seven seconds left on their eighth power play of the night, the Reign finally solved Stockton netminder Tyson Sexsmith as Jon Francisco tipped a David Walker slap shot in at 12:02.

Reign goaltender Kellen Briggs (1-1) made some spectacular saves among his 29, but Sexsmith stopped 23 of the 24 shots that came his way.

Forward Pierre-Andre Bureau made his Reign (and professional) debut on a line with Francisco and Jeff Corey, and registered one shot on goal. Luke Popko and C.J. Stretch were the scratches. Newly-acquired goaltender Beau Erickson served as the backup to Briggs.

Update: Karl Taylor told the Stockton Record that the Reign’s nine penalties totaling 26 minutes were too much to overcome, including Luke Beaverson’s 10-minute misconduct, which followed a hooking call against the Reign defenseman and an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for disputing the initial call:

“You have to adjust to how the officials call a game, and they called it
tight both ways,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of
penalties we deserved, and the insurance goal turns out to be one where
we shoot our mouth off and get what we deserve. It was the right call.”

Reign 4, Stockton 0.

Kellen Briggs stopped all 40 shots he faced and the Reign got two goals from defenseman David Walker, one each from new linemates Kyle Kraemer and Tim Kraus. The win evens the Reign’s preseason record at 1-1, having lost 6-2 the night before in Stockton.

Garrett Zemlak sat out the game on the bench, and Mike Zacharias didn’t get in either game at all, but Karl Taylor said he hasn’t made a decision yet on who will back up Martin Jones.

More on that and the rest of the game in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Stockton 6, Reign 2.

The Reign fell in their preseason opener Friday, 6-2 to the Stockton Thunder at Stockton Arena.

Kyle Kraemer and Eric Doyle scored goals, and Martin Jones played all 60 minutes in net, stopping 24 of 30 shots.

Kraemer’s tally evened the game at 1 in the first period with the teams skating 4-on-4; defensemen Reggie Traccitto and Chad Starling notched the assists. Doyle brought the score to 5-2 with his power-pay goal at 11:27 of the third period; fellow rookie forward C.J. Stretch got the lone assist.

Jones, a Kings prospect, was in net for all six goals in his ECHL debut. Kellen Briggs served as the backup but did not make an appearance. Who Karl Taylor plays in goal tonight will be instrumental in determining who makes the opening-day roster along with Jones. Mike Zacharias and Garrett Zemlak are also vying with Briggs for one open spot.

The two teams play again at 6 p.m. tonight at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Two preseason games reported.

According to the Lodi News-Sentinel,
the Reign will play two preseason games against the Stockton Thunder: One at Stockton Arena on Friday, October 8 and again the next night in
Ontario.

The Ontario location has yet to be announced, and it’s unknown whether
the Reign will play any other preseason contests. The Reign have played
two preseason games (one home, one away) in both of their first two
seasons. The Thunder will have an additional two preseason games in
Alaska before facing the Reign, according to the News-Sentinel.

There are no events currently listed for October 9 on the Citizens Business Bank Arena home page,
so the Reign could conceivably play the game at The Bank. The last two
seasons, however, Center Ice Arena has hosted both of the Reign’s home
preseason dates.

The Reign open the regular season in Stockton on Oct. 15.

ECHL playoffs: Stockton wins a thriller.

It took four hours, 15 minutes and three overtimes, but Ryan Constant finally gave 3,441 in attendance at Stockton Arena what they were waiting for Wednesday.

Constant’s goal 36 seconds into the third overtime gave the Stockton Thunder a 1-0 win over the Idaho Steelheads and averted a three games to none deficit for the Thunder – a virtual death sentence in a best-of-seven series. The goal came with five seconds remaining in a power play that began late in the second overtime.

Thunder goalie Bryan Pitton made 49 saves in a marathon shutout. The Steelheads put 18 shots on goal in the second overtime alone, thanks in part to a pair of power plays, while Stockton never managed more than 11 shots in any of the 20-minute stanzas. Idaho goalie Richard Bachman stopped 35 of 36 shots.

National Conference finals matchup set.

The Stockton Thunder will meet the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL National Conference Finals, having beaten the Bakersfield Condors 7-4 in Game 5 of their quarterfinal series Saturday.

Stockton was able to clinch its first trip to the conference finals on home ice with goals from seven different players and 31 saves from Andrew Perugini.

The Pacific Division-champion Condors didn’t make it past the second round despite a roster that included two players who had appeared in the NHL this season (Kyle Calder and MacGregor Sharp), and another who dressed for the parent-club Anaheim Ducks (Timo Pielmeier, who briefly served as a backup goalie). Pielmeier allowed six goals on 33 shots in the loss.

ECHL playoff update.

The Idaho Steelheads eliminated the Utah Grizzlies with a 4-1 win on the road Friday, sweeping the series four games to none to move on to the National Conference finals.

They will face either the Bakersfield Condors or the Stockton Thunder, who pushed their Central Valley rivals to the brink with a 6-2 win Friday night in Stockton. The Thunder lead the best-of-seven series three games to one, with Game 5 set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

AHL, ECHL playoff updates.

From the Calder Cup playoffs (American Hockey League):

Bud Holloway scored the second of three goals for the Manchester Monarchs in a 3-1 win over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night. Holloway scored the game-winner a night earlier, and the Monarchs lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. Former Reign forward Dwight King did not factor into the scoring in either game, and former Reign goalie Jeff Zatkoff has served as the backup in both.

Jon Rheault was in the starting lineup, but was kept off the scoresheet in a 4-1 loss by the Abbotsford Heat to the Rochester Americans on Saturday. Their series is tied at 1 game apiece.

Dusty Collins and the Manitoba Moose absorbed an 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday. Collins did not figure into the scoring and the Moose head home to Winnipeg trailing 2-0 in the series.

From the Kelly Cup playoffs (ECHL):

Brian Kilburg and the Utah Grizzlies are down two games to none against the Idaho Steelheads after a 4-3 loss in Boise on Saturday. The former Reign defenseman got the starting nod but didn’t score.

Oren Eizenmann’s second goal of the game at 9:01 of overtime lifted the Stockton Thunder to a 4-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday. The Thunder are leading 2-0 with the series heading back to Stockton on Tuesday. Bakersfield’s two ex-NHL forwards, MacGregor Sharp and Kyle Calder, have a combined zero goals and zero assists in the two games.