Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A View From the Minors

While most of the top flight talent in the Kings minor league system is out east in Manchester, the team does maintain a lower level presence here in Southern California. The Ontario Reign began play in the ECHL last season and already are set to host the All Star game in just their second year. Before that rolls around in January they have plenty of regular season home games left, including this weekend against Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

But selling tickets to hockey fans in Southern California - especially in this economy - is no small task. It's even more difficult when you are essentially a class-A farm team. In an effort to connect with the community and fans the team utilizes all sorts of non-traditional marketing tactics. For example, last night the team hosted a Q&A session with defenseman Shawn Germain.

Primarily a stay at home defenseman, Germain was reunited with his long time coach (Karl Taylor) in Ontario last season. He had previously played for him at the University of Waterloo and again with the Reading Royals (also of the ECHL). Germain was named the Royals defensive player of the year both seasons he skated with the team and put up almost identical numbers in his first season with the Reign last year. Here are a few highlights from the Q&A session:

  • His favorite player of all time is Ryan Smyth. He said he realizes that is easy to say now that he's with the Kings, but that he's liked him "from way back when he was drafted sixth overall." His admiration grew exponentially when Smyth tried playing with a broken ankle.

  • When asked about his playing time with goaltender Jonathan Quick while the two were together in Reading..."He never quits on a puck. I've never seen another goalie work harder."

  • Over the summer he returned home to Canada where he did a lot of concrete work and trained some guys at various hockey clinics.

  • He was very happy to play for the Reign last year, in part because he considers the ice in Ontario to be "one of the best, if not the best, in the whole league."

  • When he retires he wants to be a coach. He has already talked to Taylor about it and hopes to be an assistant under him one day when his playing days are over. However, he hopes that is "down the road a bit," he still loves to play.

Tickets to the Reign are pretty cheap and you never know who'll be playing in the game you attend. Last season the Reign line-up included Bud Holloway, Jeff Zatkoff and Geoff Walker - all now playing in Manchester. Heck, one of the top defensive prospects in the Kings organization - Colten Tuebert - even stopped by for a dozen games at the end of the year. So, if you're hockey starved while the Kings are out on the road sometime, click here to get some tickets. Go discover your favorite King to be.

Tomorrow it's back to the big boys as the Kings will be skating in San Jose against the always tough Sharks.



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