For three members of the Ontario Reign, playing in Wednesday night's ECHL All-Star game is an honor for playing well this season.
For Reign executive vice president Justin Kemp, getting the All-Star game at Citizens Business Bank Arena is a reward for fans who have supported the team.
Reign forward Greg Hogeboom and defenseman David Walker will be in the starting lineup for the American Conference, while left wing Peter Lenes was also named to the team. Jon Rheault was also selected, but he has since moved up to Manchester of the American Hockey League.
Face-off for the All-Star Game will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The American Conference, composed of 12 teams in the east, will play against the National Conference, which includes the Reign and seven other teams in the west. The contest will cap a two-day series of events, including a skills competition and the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon at which former Los Angeles Kings star and NHL Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille will be the featured speaker.
Hogeboom leads the Reign with 19 goals, which is seventh best in the league. He played in the 2007 All-Star game as a member of the Reading Royals.
"It was a great experience," said Hogeboom, who was a fifth-round selection of the Kings in the 2002 draft. "To be selected is a pretty big honor, especially because the game is here in Ontario."
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Lee Calkins / Ontario Reign/Special to The Press-Enterprise
Ontario Reign forward Greg Hogeboom has been chosen a starter for the National Conference in Wednesday's ECHL All-Star game.
Hogeboom said the game is a fun event.
"The most interesting thing is to see what the other skilled guys can do," he said.
The Reign has won only 14 of the 38 games it played before today's match at Stockton, but Hogeboom expects the team to do better during the remainder of the season. After three road games at Utah next weekend, Ontario will play 21 of the next 27 games at home.
"Things haven't gone as well as we have liked, but we have a pretty good record at home, and everyone is excited," Hogeboom said.
For Walker, this is his first appearance in an All-Star game. He also will participate in the hardest-shot portion of Tuesday's skills competition.
The 30-year-old defenseman who has 20 assists this season was selected as the National Conference captain.
"Walker has had a career year," Reign coach Karl Taylor said.
"I have always had confidence," Walker said. "I just needed someone to believe in me, and I give credit to Karl for allowing me to show what I can do."
Lenes, the Vermont native who has 11 goals, was selected to the National Conference team in his rookie year. He said he has been fortunate to play on the same line with Hogeboom and Tim Kraus.
Kemp, the Reign executive vice president, said the team's early success at the gate last season led to the decision to bid for the All-Star game. Ontario has led the ECHL in average attendance for most of the season, and its home average of 5,907 now trails Stockton by about 100 per game.
ECHL All-star FESTIVITIES
WHAT: ECHL All-Star game, skills competition, fan fest and ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon.
WHO: The top players from the National Conference, which includes the Ontario Reign and seven other league teams west of the Rocky Mountains, against the top players from the 12 teams in the American Conference, which is located east of the Mississippi River.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday. The skills competition will be held at Citizens Business Bank Arena at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and a fan festival will be held at Dave & Buster's in Ontario Mills Mall later Tuesday night, with players arriving at 9 p.m. The ECHL Hall of Fame induction luncheon is Wednesday.
WHERE:Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 East Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764. For directions: http://www.cbbankarena.com/default.asp?cbba=50
TICKET AVAILABILITY: As of Friday, tickets were available to all events except the ECHL Wednesday luncheon.
TELEVISION: Fox Sports West.
RADIO: NHL HOME ICE XM 204 and Sirius 208.