The Ontario Reign are on Day 4 of a 13-day stretch where they play only one contest (Saturday at San Diego) and Head Coach Mike Stothers is utilizing every opportunity to review the finer points of their game.
Today, the Reign dressed in the their power-play best at Ontario Center Ice and spent well over half of the 90 minute session focusing on special teams.
How They Dressed:
Purple: Mersch, Hensick, Brodzinski, LaDue, Maillet
White: Gravel, Walker, Auger, Luff, Sutter
Black: Lintuniemi, Roy, Leslie, Falkovsky
Maroon: Imama, Crescenzi, Iverson, Devane, Herr, Watson
ORI: More emphasis on special teams this week? Looks like a perfect week to review the finer points.
Head Coach Mike Stothers: We’ve taken advantage of each day. Yesterday we were heavy on the forecheck, today was a special teams day and yesterday was a good work day as well. Had a real good skate at the end Jay. The guys loved it (laughing). They have requested it again. No time soon. It’s weird. You just get in the groove of playing games again. That’s where you get some momentum going, but hey, it is what it is. We will continue to stress the little things we feel will help us in the third of three straight meetings against San Diego.
ORI: Austin Wagner had an active role on the ice today. I know he’s on a rehab assignment, but in your position of development, how has he progressed?
Stothers: He’s still wearing a special jersey that indicates that he should not have contact. Now, it’s a red jersey and it’s much the same as stop signs. Some people roll right through those. (laughing) You can’t just tap the breaks once and roll right through. There is the fear one of our guys will do a “rolling stop sign,” so we are cautious and guarded of that. We want to get him skating. He will have probably about two weeks where he will mirror some players and drills to get his legs underneath him and then we hope he will have about two weeks of gradual contact if not full contact. Then the decision will be made if he will go back to juniors or stay with us. He’s been feeling good on the ice which is encouraging. He has something that we do not have an abundance of, which is speed. He is lighting on skates. We don’t want to rush the process and he will have as much time as he needs.
ORI: I saw Chris Sutter (younger brother of Reign forward Brett) around the locker room and on the bench coaching today. I can only imagine the smiles he brings when he walks into a room. How has it been to have him back around the club again?
Stothers: Sutts texted me yesterday asking if he could bring Chris to practice and I said, “I’d love to have him and I’d be annoyed if you didn’t bring him.” He’s a great kid. A great person. You know what, he really knows and loves the game. You can see how much the brothers care and love each other. Is a good feeling for everybody. I asked him today if he was going to come out with us today and he said, “I can’t skate” and I said, “Neither can I. We can do this together.” (laughing)
I also had a chance to catch up with Chris as he begins his visit to SoCal.
ORI: Great to see you! How was your summer? I know there are lot of fans that want to know what you have been up to.
Chris: I’ve been going back and forth. I’ve been working on the farm and helping my dad out. I came here yesterday from Canada where it was snowing and happy to be in the sunshine.
ORI: Any special plans for you and Brett during your visit?
Chris: I have plans to see him play and help his family. We are going to take the dogs out and go to practice.
ORI: I know you have a lot of friends in the area. Any chance you will get to catch up with them?
Chris: I think so. All the fans want to see the greatest dancer!