New coach wants tough Reign

By Eileen Gutierrez |Staff Writer|

It’s happened to all of us before.

It’s Friday night and we are looking for something to do.

Here’s a fresh idea: how about attending an Ontario Reign hockey game?

The Ontario Reign is a minor league hockey team that plays at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The team is the minor league affiliate with the Los Angeles Kings.

The team is back and in full effect as their season begins Oct. 14 with hopes to move forward from last season with a new coach and a few key standout players.

The team hired new coach, Jason Christie. Christie was voted “Coach of the Year” for 2010-2011 for leading a team with a losing record in years before, the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, to a playoff berth last year.

The Thunder also took home “Hardest Working Team” honors for all of Minor League Hockey.

Christie hopes to transfer that hardworking effort to Ontario.

“Every player wants to make it to the NHL and I give them the support they need to reach that objective and develop a winning edge,” he said to OntarioReign.com.

The Reign recently signed Travis Gawryletz from the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, where he had an outstanding season as a defensive player. Brady Calla and rookie Shayne Negium were also signed.

The first day of camp brought more coaches, less defensemen and uncertainty. The only player that had previously played for Christie, Chad Sterling, was absent.

The camp only had 18 players and four goalies. Fortunately, Christie was able to pull a few strings and bring another of his former players from Calgary, Jeff MacPhee, a defenseman, to Ontario.

MacPhee describes himself as a simple defenseman that likes to play physical and “does what it takes to win.”

Christie hopes that his team will take on the identity of a “tough” team, which may be a great possibility.

Derek Coutoure, Chris Cloud and Dylan Yeo all return as key offensive players in addition to Nelgium and other standout trades.

Last year’s season was rather disappointing as the team was plagued by many losses and struggles.

The 2010-2011 season ended in a fourth place finish with a 27-39-2 record and unfortunately earned the reputation of being the underdog.

One of the highlights of the past two seasons was that the Reign ranked highest in attendance during the season among the league.

As the new season begins, the Reign has an opportunity to improve their “underdog” status. A new coach, three new dominate players and a dedicated fan base may provide the chance for a better season.

Opening night is Oct. 14 versus the Bakersfield Condors at 7 p.m. Opening night will feature free game schedule magnets and Free Wing Friday.

Tickets start at just $10 and promotions occur all throughout the season.

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