ONTARIO - Reign teammates Adrian Van De Mosselaer and Kyle Kraemer have a few things in common. They were among the 13 players Karl Taylor signed over the summer before the coach left for the American Hockey League and Jason Christie took over behind the bench.
They were also two of the four players who were injured to begin the regular season - Kraemer with a knee ailment, Van De Mosselaer with mononucleosis.
Suffice it to say, the new season did not begin the way either player imagined.
Lately, however, both Kraemer and Van De Mosselaer seem to be coming around. They were two players Christie cited when explaining the three-game winning streak the Reign will take into tonight's home game against the Las Vegas Wranglers.
"Kraemer, right now I think, is playing the best he's played all year," Christie said. "Van De Mosselaer's really come in."
Kraemer is an offensive-minded winger whose game is based primarily on speed and a hard shot. He missed the first 12 regular-season games on injured reserve, then scored points in his first three games back. But the 26-year-old slowed down in December, scoring just four points (two goals, two assists) in 13 games; both goals came in a single game.
Lately, Kraemer has been on fire. He's riding a four-game point streak during which he has a goal and five assists.
"I'm just trying to focus on little things," Kraemer said. "Trying to focus on being in the right position and finding the openings. Basically, just go out and work hard, forecheck and good things happen from there, I guess."
During his first pro season a year ago, Kraemer offered glimpses of his offensive potential during a mostly bad season for the Reign. He finished with 16 goals and 37 points in 51 games, despite missing one-quarter of the season to injury.
Those glimpses have become more frequent under Christie, whose puck-possession system has given the Reign more scoring chances than they had last year under Taylor.
"It's a great system," Kraemer said. "It took me a little bit to get used to but I'm used to it now, I guess."
Van De Mosselaer's game is not measured in points, though for the record he has one assist during the winning streak.
Rather, the rookie defenseman has tried to establish the same defense-first game that made him so successful in the Western Hockey League. Listed at 6-foot-2, Van De Mosselaer is becoming a more imposing presence around the Reign net and - like all his mates on the blue line - more adept at outlet passes that can jump-start a rush.
"Probably just understanding what the coaches want," he said. "There's a difference between what I was playing last year to this year. Obviously, it was a learning curve for me."
More than that, is getting to know his teammates - something he couldn't do when he was ordered to stay away from the rink until his mononucleosis symptoms subsided.
"Now it's more like I feel part of the team," he said. "I think we really jelled over the past little while, after Christmas. The guys really came together."
Van De Mosselaer Notes
As expected, the Reign added Mike Montgomery to the roster Tuesday, one day after the defenseman was released from his tryout contract with the American Hockey League's Houston Aeros. Montgomery has no points and a minus-5 rating in 18 games this season with the Reign.