Some notes ahead of tonight’s 5:30 p.m. PT road game for the Reign, the first of a three-in-three, as they take on the Texas Stars at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Stick tap out to Joey Zakrzewski for his interview with head coach Mike Stothers at morning skate to help on this report.
–For the second straight game the Reign will start a goalie participating in his first AHL game. In tonight is Jack Flinn, who was recalled from ECHL-Manchester on Thursday. Last Saturday the Reign started Jonah Imoo in a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose.
The debut of Anders Lindback, brought on via PTO earlier this week, will have to wait as the organization continues to work on his visa.
“Maybe it’s a good situation in the fact that you’re not thrown into the fire right away when he hasn’t had the luxury of a training camp, hasn’t had the luxury of any exhibition games,” Stothers said of Lindback. “And now you turn it over to the two young guys, Jack Flinn is playing tonight and he’s gone down to Manchester and he’s done all the things that are necessary throughout the summer to prepare. Jonah had a real good effort against San Jose the other night. We’re a little inexperienced in net. I guess ‘a lot’ would be more accurate but how do you get experience? You’ve got to play.”
Flinn has appeared in one game with the Monarchs this season (4.09 GAA, .840 save percentage), a loss against Adirondack on Oct. 15. The 20-year-old Halifax, Nova Scotia, native was with the Reign during training camp before being assigned to Manchester. Maxime Lagace is scheduled to start for Texas.
–The wait is over for Paul LaDue, who barring any unforeseen circumstances will make his season debut tonight. After suffering a lower-body injury in practice nearly two weeks ago, the promising 24-year-old blue-liner will play in his first regular season AHL game after appearing in three playoff games for the Reign last season.
“He’s very mobile. He’s got a good hockey head on his shoulders. He reads situations well. He defends very well, for maybe an undersized defenseman when you first look at him. He’s got a great stick. He’s all about angles,” Stothers said. “He’s much the same as (Alec) Martinez up in L.A. I’m certainly not calling LaDue, Martinez, yet, but I see some similarities in the fact that he’s not the biggest guy in the world but he can really do some good things because of his skating ability, his positioning, and the stick as I mentioned.
“We’re anxious to get him back and recognize the fact that he’s a rookie, but he’s older. He comes into us after playing a college career so he’s a little bit older, a little bit more experienced and he’s mature physically. We’re not thinking he’s going to put the team on his shoulders. No expectations are like that for any one individual on our team. It’s a team concept and we go by the five-man concept. Whatever five guys are on the ice are working together and supporting each other and we hope that he can have a smooth transition, get back on the ice, and what better way to do so than three games in two and a half days.”
–The Reign are 7-0-0-0 against Texas all time and defeated the Stars 6-5 in overtime last Friday on Jonny Brodzinski’s game-winner.
–Tonight’s game will mark milestone appearances for forwards T.J. Hensick (650th pro contest) and Michael Latta (300th).
–Below is the full audio of Joey Z’s interview with Stothers on what the team needs to do differently to be successful against Texas, on Rob Scuderi’s effect on the team, LaDue and the goaltending: