J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/The Sun
LAS VEGAS - Jordan Nolan stick-handled past one defender, circled around through the slot and continued to circle. He eventually was played off the puck along the boards, and the 20-year-old had learned a valuable lesson.
"At certain times in my league, I could pull stuff like that off," he said. "But up here, you have to take the shots when you can."
One game into his professional career, Nolan hadn't fully adapted to the reality that the Ontario Hockey League no longer is his league.
He spent much of the Reign's 5-2 loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers on Thursday trying to blend in, and his only contribution to the score sheet was a high-sticking penalty in the second period - one of 19 Reign infractions - immediately after he committed a giveaway.
"It was a tough situation. His first pro game, being a young man, the extreme circumstances with the race we're in," Reign coach Karl Taylor said. "It was tough because he didn't get a lot of ice time in the first period with the penalties."
Nolan shifted in at left and right wing Thursday and traded line partners throughout the game. His ice time picked up Friday, and he gained stable footing at left wing on a line with center Michael Pelech and right wing Greg Hogeboom.
In both games, Taylor opted to play Nolan over fellow rookie C.J. Stretch.
Both players signed amateur tryout contracts over the weekend.
The decision, Taylor said, rested less on what he saw from Nolan or Stretch during two days of practice and more on what he knew about each player before they joined the team.
"You look at different elements that they bring - what type of player they're supposed to be, or what you've been told they're supposed to be," Taylor said. "Then you make the best decision based on the knowledge you have."
Nolan, a seventh-round draft pick by the Kings last year, was pegged as a gritty power forward, solid on defense, who can chip in with occasional goals and fights. Stretch, an undrafted free agent out of the Western Hockey League's Kamloops Blazers, is touted a playmaking center who can distribute the puck.
Nolan traded roster spots with Mike Howe, an original member of the Reign who also was a defensive-minded forward.
Although Nolan's feeling-out period was typical, Taylor said, "We were hoping that wouldn't occur."
The ECHL fined Mike Egener and Sean O'Connor "an undisclosed amount as a result of their actions following" Thursday night's game against Las Vegas.
Both were fined under ECHL Rule 29 (Supplementary Discipline). Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players' Association, player fines collected by the ECHL are given to the PHPA for its ECHL Player's Hardship Fund.
It is believed to be the first time this season a Reign player has been fined by the league.
Las Vegas Wranglers forward Ned Lukacevic was loaned to the American Hockey League's Texas Stars and missed Friday's game. Lukacevic had a hat trick against the Reign Thursday. ... The Reign officially clinched first place in the ECHL in average attendance (6,451) ahead of the second-place Toledo Walleye (6,294) and third-place Stockton Thunder (6,031).