The Stockton Thunder absorbed another severe roster blow before hitting the road Thursday (Feb. 7) for Anchorage, where the team will spend the upcoming weekend playing three games in three days against the Alaska Aces.
Harrison Reed, who leads the Thunder with 21 goals (including an ECHL-leading 12 on the power play), will not be with the team in Alaska because he has been loaned to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
The loss of Reed is the second major hit taken by the Thunder this week. Earlier, the club lost playmaker Yannick Riendeau, who accepted an offer to play in Switzerland. Riendeau leads the team in points with 44 (14 goals, 30 assists) in 42 games.
Losing both Reed and Riendeau leaves a huge hole in the Stockton offense, which already had been hurt by the departure of players such as Tony Rajala and Philippe Cornet, each of whom was promoted to the AHL when the National Hockey League lockout ended last month. Those four players combined to produce 148 points (62 goals, 86 assists) for the Thunder this season.
To help fill the void in the team's lineup, the Thunder on Thursday signed 6-foot, 190-pound rookie center Cody Crichton, who had appeared in three games with Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League. Crichton, 24, was invited to a prospects camp with the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) of the NHL in 2008 before playing college hockey for four seasons at Robert Morris University. Crichton played in 113 games during his NCAA career and had 53 points and 72 penalty minutes in those games.
Stockton also expects to get help soon from veteran forward Shawn Weller, whose ECHL rights were obtained recently from the South Carolina Stingrays in a trade for defenseman Cameron Brodie. Weller, who has played in nearly 400 career games as a pro, is expected to be assigned to Stockton any day from the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL. Weller has appeared in 294 career games in the AHL, where he has recorded 87 points (44 goals, 43 assists). Weller also has posted 72 points (30 goals, 42 assists) in 80 career ECHL games.
Additionally, the Thunder could get a boost soon from the return of forward Jesse Fratkin, who has been on the 21-day injured reserve list since being hurt in a game at Bakersfield in late December.
Stockton will begin its three-game set in Alaska on Friday night. The teams will meet again Saturday and Sunday. The Thunder will play at home again on Feb. 15, when the Ontario Reign will visit Stockton Arena.
On a side note, former Thunder forward Mark Arcobello made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, making him the ninth player to reach the NHL after playing in Stockton. Arcobello appeared in 33 games with the Thunder during the 2010-’11 season and had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in those games.