Kings, Reign grow hockey in Southern California, grassroots style
Jon Rosen, Foxsports.com
October 30, 2011
The offense was so potent, the Jets and Flyers were taking notes.
Not that the score was the most important aspect of the evening's festivities, but the LA Kings Alumni defeated Icetown – Riverside, 13-12 in a shootout Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, home of the Ontario Reign, Los Angeles' ECHL affiliate.
The event, one of several Kings alumni outreach events at rinks throughout the region, aids both the Reign's public relations and fundraising efforts while furthering Los Angeles' ties to rinks and youth programs as they look to break in a new wave of Kings fans throughout Southern California. As part of Affiliate Night, Ontario wore LA Kings-themed jerseys with an "IE" on the chevron instead of "LA" to represent the Inland Empire, while STAPLES Center organist Dieter Ruehle entertained the crowd with many of the same interludes that Kings fans have heard for years and Los Angeles alums Brad Norton and Ian Turnbull signed autographs during the first intermission.
In the afternoon's alumni fundraising game, J.F. Jomphe apparently was looking for a try-out, scoring seven times and assisting on several more, while Jamie Storr, Brandon Convery, Mark Hardy, Matt Kopitar (Anze's father), Norton and Turnbull rounded out the Kings' roster.
Storr, who appeared as a forward instead of putting on the goaltending pads, is active in the Kings' alumni efforts while also serving as a goaltending instructor with the LA Junior Kings youth program.
"I think there's a good group of guys that still live in the area," Storr said of Los Angeles' alumni. "The association – through Ian and [Kings Director of Fan Development / Community Relations] James Cefaly – has been great, just in being supportive in the relationship between the Kings and ex-players. Any time we have time, its fun to come out and be back with the guys we used to play with. It's a lot of fun."
Through the auction of the special edition Inland Empire-crowned jerseys, the 50/50 auction, and with $1 from every ticket sold, the Reign raised $16,050 towards hockey scholarships for the Junior Reign and Lady Reign hockey clubs. The Junior Reign, which operates out of Icetown in Riverside, completely redefined their identity when the ECHL club relocated to Ontario prior to the 2008-09 season in a successful effort to boost participation and fundraising efforts.
Matt Dunaev, Icetown's General Manager and Hockey Director, spoke of the importance of Ontario's fundraisers, which are benefited by a boost in participation on Affiliate Nights.
"In order for us to survive, in order for us to have any teams, we have to have a scholarship program, and the only way to have it is through the fundraising that we do, this being the biggest fundraiser of the year," Dunaev said. "There is not one team that doesn't have at least two or three players that are on the scholarship program. Without it, they wouldn't be able to play, and without them, we wouldn't have teams."
The Reign, which led the ECHL in attendance last year, has set a high bar in its community relations, raising over $500,000 for local charitable organizations through its non-profit entity, the Hope Reigns Foundation. With fundraisers such as tonight's, along with an upcoming Military Appreciation Jersey Night on Nov. 19 and future jersey auctions, Ontario will look to surpass last year's half-million dollars distributed to community non-profit groups.
All of this is good news for the Jr. Reign program, which has seen its status rise in the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association, as well as the Kings, who will be visiting several other local rinks this season to catalyze fundraising efforts and support of LA Kings hockey.
Glen Murray, who coached Los Angeles' alumni team during the afternoon's game, has taken note of the rising status Southern California-based youth programs have earned, thanks in part to partnerships such as the one on display Saturday.
"It's really great for the kids to see these guys come out here and support youth hockey around southern California," Murray said. "Coaching youth hockey right now, it's pretty amazing to see the talent and athleticism in the kids around California."
NOTES: Both Los Angeles and Ontario fell in overtime Saturday. The Kings dropped a 3-2 decision on Daymond Langkow's game winner, which appeared to deflect in on the short side from a sharp angle off Jack Johnson's stick. Drew Doughty was a +1 while leading the team in ice time with 25:31 after missing five games..The Reign lost 4-3 in overtime to the Colorado Eagles as 20-year old Kings goaltending prospect J.F. Berube remained winless three games into his professional career after stopping 23-of-27 for Ontario...The Kings will conclude their three-game roadtrip Sunday in Colorado against an Avalanche squad still looking for their first home win of the season despite posting a 6-1-0 record away from Pepsi Center. Bob Miller and Jim Fox's call can be heard live on FOX Sports West at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.