“I made a mistake,” Thomas said. “On the first night (of the preseason), a lot of the players I needed to make decisions on didn’t show me anything, so I really wanted to get a better look at those guys.
“But there were a few I knew weren’t going to make the team in that second game and I should have just sat some of them out. … I was waiting to see, but waiting to see might have cost us.”
A total of 10 players are back from the Thunder’s 2009 playoff roster: Four forwards (Craig Valette, James Bates, Judd Blackwater, Garet Hunt), four defensemen (Matt O’Dette, Daryl Marcoux, Ryan Constant, Jordan Bendfield) and goalies Bryan Pitton and Andrew Perugini.
In a resounding response to their opening-night shutout loss, the Reign exploded for eight goals from five different players, and chased the Bakersfield Condors’ starting goalie in an 8-2 win at Rabobank Arena.
Greg Hogeboom notched a hat trick and added an assist; Adam Henrich had two goals and an assist, Tim Kraus had four assists and Curtis Darling stopped 34-of-36 shots in his first appearance between the pipes. The Reign were outshot 36-24 but still chased Bakersfield starter Timo Pielmeier, who stopped just 12-of-19 shots.
Mike Egener scored on Justin Pogge, last night’s starter, in the third period, and Peter Lenes and Jon Rheault also scored for the Reign (1-1).
A disciplined Reign squad needed only to kill three penalties, while taking advantage of 3-of-10 power-play opportunities in the win.
Not much good news in Bakersfield (unless you’re a big fan of penalty killing).
The Reign were outshot 38-15 and outscored 5-0 in their season opener against a Bakersfield team stacked with Ducks prospects. Justin Pogge, the parent club’s number-three goalie, was perfect in stopping what few offensive chances the Reign could muster.
Curiously, the Reign went 7-for-7 on the penalty kill but had a little harder time stopping the Condors at even strength. Bakersfield used their speed to full effect, and scored twice on fast-breaks. Mike Zacharias got the call over Curtis Darling in net and played fairly well considering how much time the Reign spent in their own zone. “Most of the goals we didn’t give him much chance on,” Karl Taylor said.
More details in tomorrow’s editions.
One more detail – Jon Francisco is the new (old?) captain. He was officially handed the “C” again, and Shawn Germain and David Walker donned “A”s.
… players on NHL contracts the Reign will see tonight in Bakersfield. That is, if Dan Sexton has arrived from San Antonio of the American Hockey League. The rookie forward out of Bowling Green had a solid preseason in the Ducks’ NHL camp, then didn’t play for San Antonio, which is a Phoenix Coyotes’ affiliate, before being assigned to the Bakersfield Condors on Friday.
Including Sexton, Bakersfield’s roster now features 11 players under NHL contracts to the Ducks.
Missed this one yesterday, but there was one notable Reign nemesis who was cut from his ECHL training camp: Luke Erickson, who scored 21 goals and 55 points in 68 games last year for the Alaska Aces.
The speedy forward had four goals and two assists in seven games against the Reign last season, but today finds himself without a team. He was also among the league’s best last year in shootouts, where he was a perfect 5-for-5.
First-year Aces coach Brent Thompson told the Anchorage Daily News that “In my mind-set, [Erickson] is more of a top two-line center with an offensive side. I’d have to put him in a defensive, checking center role and I don’t see him as that.”
Left one name off the Reign’s opening-day roster: Adam Henrich.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound forward was playing for the AHL’s Springfield (Mass.) Falcons as little as four days ago, but was released from his Pro Tryout Contract on Tuesday. Henrich has split his first five pro seasons between the AHL and the ECHL, where he was almost a goal-per-game player (10 goals, 20 points in 12 games) during his last stint in Wheeling (2007-08).
He spent all of last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, scoring 3 goals and 11 points in 37 games.
This isn’t breaking news. It’s been that way since the end of last season and it’s a tradition in each year Karl Taylor has coached in the ECHL.
What is news is that, even with a returning captain and three alternates (Shawn Germain, David Walker and Chad Starling), the Reign are waiting to select their next “C.”
“The turnover is so high, we wait and see what happens. We see how it shakes out,” Taylor said. “Obviously we’ve got some guys back from last year who we trusted, but we’ve brought in some new guys that have experience and maybe they’ll be part of the leadership group.”
To choose the captain, the Reign players collectively get one vote, while Taylor gets another.
“It’s a big decision, and we definitely don’t want to rush it,” Taylor said. “I’m never in a rush to pick the captaincy.”
Neither is Francisco.
“Last year, I was very much honored to be a part of that close group of guys,” he said. “But that’s over. This is a new year.”