When it Reigns, it pours

ONTARIO, Calif. – In a recent ECHL early season game between the Ontario Reign and the San Francisco Bulls, the Reign came roaring back from a 4-1 deficit. With just over three minutes remaining in regulation, the Reign scored three goals in a minute and 57 seconds to tie the score and then win 5-4 in a shootout.

Colton Yellow Horn (by Jack Lima)

Colton Yellow Horn (by Jack Lima)

Some of the spark for this exciting comeback win was fueled by Ontario forward Colton Yellow Horn, who assisted on the Reign’s third regulation goal. Yellow Horn scored the game-winner in the shootout, firing the puck between the pads of Bulls’ goaltender Thomas Heemskerk. Yellow Horn was selected as the game’s number one star. “It was kind of a sloppy game,” Yellow Horn said. “But we didn’t quit and came back and got a big win which is huge for us. That’s how you build character. You finish hard no matter what.” Yellow Horn’s performance was reflective of the way he’s played throughout his hockey career. In 628 games prior to this season, he’s scored 629 points. He is often double-shifted due to great conditioning and plays either wing. “He’s full of life and energy,” said Reign Head Coach Jason Christie. “He’s tenacious and will find a way to get the puck. I’m excited to have him on the team.” Christie first encountered Yellow Horn when he coached the Bloomington Prairie Thunder in the CHL and Yellow Horn played for the Allen Americans. “I remember him from two years ago, when I coached against him,” Christie said. “He’s a little fireball out there and a guy that can beat you. I want him out there as much as possible.” Yellow Horn is a native of Brocket, Alberta and is a Blackfoot Canadian. The Blackfoot is one of three First Nations tribes that make up the Blackfoot Nation. “There’s a lot of hockey played (in the tribal nations), but there’s not as many kids,” Yellow Horn said. “Whenever I go home, I try to get the kids to be active in any kind of sport. I want them to know there’s more to life than (hanging) around there. I’ve been fortunate enough to play hockey and see the world; done lots of things I would have never done and I want them to have the same opportunities.” Yellow Horn began his career in major juniors with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Tri-City Americans in the WHL. He traveled overseas to play for Salzburg in the Austrian League, and then returned to the states to play for the Elmira Jackals and Stockton Thunder, both ECHL teams. “I played in Stockton for a couple of months,” Yellow Horn said. “But it didn’t work out. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery.”
Yellow Horn battles for puck (by Jack Lima)

Yellow Horn battles for puck (by Jack Lima)

That change of scenery took him to Allen, Texas where he helped the Americans to three playoff appearances, including the CHL finals 2009-2010. It was there that he played with current Dallas/Texas Stars defenseman Jamie Benn. “He’s an unreal guy,” Benn said. “He’s a great teammate, a great hockey player and a good buddy of mine.” Yellow Horn decided to leave the CHL and join the Reign because the he felt the ECHL’s style of hockey better suited his game. “It’s a little different game in the ECHL,” Yellow Horn said. “The CHL is more of a puck possession game and here (there are) younger guys who chip the puck in and out. There’s a little more grinding.” “I also have some really close friends that I grew up with that are here,” Yellow Horn added. “There are others (in the league) who are out there as well. But there are no friends out on the ice (for the opposition).”
Yellow Horn discusses call with Ref (by Mitch Cooper)

Yellow Horn discusses call with Ref (by Mitch Cooper)

Like any professional minor league hockey player, Yellow Horn strives for the opportunity to move up in his profession. “I hope I get the opportunity (to play in the AHL),” Yellow Horn said. “I can only control how I play and hopefully I do well enough.” One of the current barriers for moving up is the NHL lockout that threatens the 2012-2013 NHL season. “It’s going to be tough to move up with the lockout this year,” Yellow Horn said. “So hopefully that gets settled soon so guys down here have a chance to move up. People don’t realize that the lockout affects not only the NHL players, but minor leaguers as well.” His coach feels he’s capable of moving up to a higher league, but the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself. “I don’t think he’s ever been in a situation where he’s been in position to be called up,” Christie said. “Hopefully, I can do that for him. That’s one of my goals. It’s a long process, but I’ll work hard for him.” No matter who you talk to, they all agree that Yellow Horn is talented, tenacious, good in the locker room, and a positive influence on everyone he comes in contact with. He credits his parents for his positive outlook on life. “My parents are the biggest part of my attitude,” Yellow Horn said. “They never pushed me to play hockey. That was my decision. But they said once you start, you can’t quit. They said if I worked hard, everything else would fall into place.” It would appear that things have fallen into place just fine. Contact the writer at: mitch.cooper@prohockeynews.com Follow on twitter at: @phnhockeyeditor  

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