Three Reign Among All-Star Selections
Lindsay Czarnecki, Staff Writer
When it comes to the ECHL All-Star game, the importance of showcasing the youth in the league has become prevalent over the past few seasons.
On Tuesday, the Reign learned that three of their young stars - right wing Geoff Walker, center Tim Kraus and goalie Jeff Zatkoff - made the cut for the 17th annual contest.
"All three of those guys have been first-year guys who have contributed to our team," Reign coach Karl Taylor said.
All-Star festivities will be held Jan. 20-21 at the arena of a former Kings affiliate, the Reading Royals, with the skills competition taking place Tuesday and the game the next day.
Kraus, a Garden Grove native and the only SoCal product on the team, said he was shocked to get the call but also very excited.
"It's pretty nice," Kraus said. "It shows that I've been working hard and doing some pretty good things so far this season."
Kraus is tied for third on the team with six goals and 16 assists in 30 games.
Walker is tied for the ECHL rookie lead with 14 power-play points. He is also second in scoring for the Reign with 10goals and 14 assists in 30games.
"I've come a long way so far," Walker said of his progress this season. "The coaches have been tough on me and I needed that; losing some weight and just being a more complete player.
"They've really been on me and I'm grateful for that because it's made me into a better player today."
Zatkoff, who was recently promoted by the Kings to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, had played in 16 games, registering an 8-6-1-0 record, a 2.31 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage, second-best in the league. Due to the promotion, Taylor said he was unsure if Zatkoff would play in the game.
Although Zatkoff may not be present, Kraus and Walker both felt a little more comfortable knowing one familiar face was going to the in the locker room.
"It's nice to share that honor with someone that you play with every day and that you go through the battle with," Kraus said. "It's good for me and Geoff, and if Zatkoff can make it there it's even better."
The starting lineups are determined in voting by coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and media members.
Coaches also submitted the top prospects from within their conference to determine the final roster with each of the nine teams having a representative.
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