Ontario Reign 2011-12 Year in Review
The Ontario Reign knew that the 2011-12 season was going to be unlike any previous year as right before the season began, the only man to ever coach the Reign, Karl Taylor, announced that he was leaving Ontario, as he accepted an assistant coaching position with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. After some deliberation, the Reign announced that ECHL coaching veteran, Jason Christie would be filling the role with the assistance of former NHL and LA Kings assistant coach, Mark Hardy.
Pacific Division Champions
Laura Hendrick, Ontario Reign PR
Another new face to the Reign organization was the team’s first-ever radio broadcaster, Dan Hubbard. His broadcast was available for most Reign home games and some away ones as well.
As the roster was set and the season began in October, the Reign got off to a bit of a shaky start losing three of five games that month. Both starting goaltenders, J.F. Berube and Darcy Kuemper, were rookies on NHL contracts; Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild, respectively.
Winnipeg Jets prospect, Chris Carrozzi, replaced Kuemper in November and would go on to earn a name for himself with the Reign throughout the season.
In November, Ontario earned their 100th franchise win in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Eagles. Shortly after the milestone win, the Reign lost their captain, Dylan Yeo, former NHLer, J.P. Cote, and star goalie, Kuemper, to the AHL. Kuemper proved himself as a top prospect losing only one game for the Reign before leaving for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. The week he left, he earned ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors.
The latter half of the season was unlike any the organization had seen. In January, the team won nine of their 12 games earning an eight-game unbeaten streak followed by a seven-game win streak which extended into February. For posting a 1.26 goals against average and 0.954 save percentage, Carrozzi was honored as the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Month for January. He and Berube earned a season record 224:14 consecutive shutout minutes from January 6-13.
On February 4, Christie became the league’s fourth most winning coach earning his 333rd ECHL victory, a 6-4 win over the Utah Grizzlies. That same night Carrozzi extended his unbeaten streak to 11 games. On February 24, the Reign clinched their second Kelly Cup playoff spot in just four seasons.
In the final month of the regular season Berube earned his league-leading fourth shutout in Idaho with a 4-0 win on March 16. The following night, the Reign broke another franchise record with their 39th regular season victory, a 3-2 shootout win. The ECHL honors rained on Ontario when Christie was named All-ECHL Second Team Head Coach, Jason Fredricks won the ECHL Community Service Award, and for the third consecutive year, the Reign won the ECHL Attendance Award with an average of 6,309 fans per game.
In the last game of the regular season the Reign took the 2011-12 Pacific Division title after a long fought battle for the spot, with a decisive 6-1 win over the Western Conference champion team, the Alaska Aces.
In a hard fought five game series against the Idaho Steelheads, the Reign lost in game five on April 9, 2012.