ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL Los Angeles Kings and AHL Manchester Monarchs, announced that they have released right wing Denny Johnston from his contract for the 2009-2010 season. Johnston has been accepted into medical school and will be attending this semester.
In addition, the Reign have signed goaltender Mike Zacharias to a standard player contract for the 2009-2010 season.
"I chose med school largely because of my wrist injury," said Johnston when asked what influenced his decision. "I don't think most of the fans knew that I had an issue with my wrist but I played all last year with it broke. My doctor evaluated me and said that I may be able to return in January, and that seemed like a very long time to wait."
Johnston finished his first professional season with the Reign last year, after spending 10 games with the Manchester Monarchs. While with the Reign, the Rosetown, Saskatchewan native amassed nine points (5g, 4a) and 27 penalty minutes in 20 games. He also appeared in all seven games of the Reign’s post-season, where he picked up an assist.
"Medical school is very competitive these days and it would have been terribly difficult to turn down the opportunity to go into medicine and not be able to play hockey for a long time, either," he said. "I really will miss the City of Ontario and the people that supported the team most. The Reign has a tremendous staff and great support. The boys all know how heartbreaking it was for me not to play this year and they know they will be missed every day."
Zacharias, 24, finished his fourth season with Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he was named MVP during his junior and senior seasons, with a career record of 45-39-16. In 102 games and 6,056 minutes with the Mavericks, the Plymouth, Minnesota native set school career records with a .910 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average and registered five assists.