So, what’s been going on with the LA Kings prospects since we checked in last week? Let’s take a look around North America at the various levels of hockey…and as an added bonus, this week’s report includes some quotes from a goaltender selected at the 2009 NHL Draft and a defenseman taken in 2010.
Things continue to be a struggle for the guys in the American Hockey League right now. They went 1-2 in their three games last week and only scored a single goal in the two losses.
– Martin Jones was in net for both losses…Jordan Nolan continues to have a fine season thus far, picking up another goal and an assist (six points total through 11 games played…Linden Vey, who was on MayorsManor last week after scoring his first goal as a professional, netted another one in last Saturday’s win…Robbie Czarnik, who’s been in Manchester all season, finally made his debut on Saturday – and picked up an assist for his efforts…goalie Jeff Zatkoff also picked up an assist in that game, something Jones had done a few games prior…Brandon Kozun, who is off to a slower start than expected, picked up the lone goal (his second of the season) in Sunday’s loss…Andrei Loktionov still leads the team in points (three goals, nine assists) and has a plus-5 rating.
– Starting tomorrow night, the Monarchs will play one of those Manchester specials – a three-fer – with games back-to-back-to-back, Friday through Sunday.
After splitting a pair of games last weekend, coach Jason Christie’s club is 2-2-1 after their first five games (which is the fewest played in the ECHL’s Western Conference). This weekend, they’ll be in Denver, rematching with the team that came back to beat them last Saturday. Following the loss, Kings goaltending prospect JF Berube shared the following thoughts on the game and his performance:
– “You want to have shots as quickly as possible when (once the game starts), especially when you don’t have a lot of games behind you…the team did a better job of letting me see the puck, which always makes it easier…(Colorado) were trying a lot of back door (plays) and I was maybe cheating a little bit, to get quicker. But like you said, there were some bad bounces…those things happen and we’ll learn from it.”
– On how he’s feeling, just three games back after hip surgery in April: “I feel my game is moving forward a lot. My goalie coach, Kim Dillabaugh, was here this week, so working with him helped me also. I’m feeling more comfortable in the net, I’m reading the play better and stuff like that. I’m just trying to keep improving. I haven’t won yet this season and I’m really looking forward for the first one to break the ice.”
– Jordan Weal (Regina Pats, WHL): now has points in ten straight games, and a total of 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) through 16 games played…he’ll play newly signed Kings prospect Alex Roach (6-foot-4 defenseman) and the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night…Roach earned a free agent contract after impressive tryout camps in July and September.
– Tyler Toffoli (Ottawa 67’s, OHL): things heated up a little bit last week for the reigning OHL scoring champion…he picked up a hat trick, with the third goal coming in overtime, and is now up to 13 goals and 12 assists in his first 13 games played, plus sports a plus-12 rating.
– Andy Andreoff (Oshawa Generals, OHL): continues to get back into the groove, after spending a few weeks in an extended training camp with the Monarchs. He;s played nine games, picking up three goals and five assists. The future power forward is expected to put up big numbers this year, his over-age season of junior hockey. Now, about that minus-8…
– Michael Schumacher (Soo Greyhounds, OHL): another power forward drafted by the Kings this past June, the big Swede has nine goals and four assists in 16 games. There’s a big showdown this Saturday, when he and the ‘Hounds travel to Ottawa to play Toffoli and the 67’s.
– Christopher Gibson (goalie, QMJHL): after a slow start, his record is up to 7-5, but it’s the other stats that are worrisome: 3.07 goals-against average and 0.893 save percentage – this from last year’s top pick by the Kings at the NHL Draft.
– Michael Mersch (University of Wisconsin): one goal, two assists vs. Nebraska-Omaha (Scott Parse’s old team) last weekend and they split the two-game series. The Badgers could be a team to keep an eye on as the season develops.
– Joel Lowry: made his college debut for Cornell (Andy Bernard’s alma matter) Friday night in a 5-4 loss. He had zero points, one shot on goal and was a minus-2.
– Kevin Gravel vs. Derek Forbort: The two twin towers among the Kings defensive prospects squared off last weekend in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Gravel and his St. Cloud State Huskies downed the Fighting Sioux 4-0 on Friday and then lost a close 3-2 game on Saturday. As he’s known to do from time to time, Gravel checked in with MayorsManor earlier this week and provided a few thoughts on the series…
* On the intensity in Saturday’s game, especially early on – “We knew that North Dakota was going to be a little frustrated, having not won a league game yet and maybe feeling like we stole one from them the night before. So, we knew they were going to come out hard. Obviously, with it being such a huge rival of ours, it’s not hard to get up for that game. We were ready to go and knew we’d have to match their intensity. I think we did a pretty good job of it for the first part of the game.”
* On some of the people who have been critical of Forbort’s play thus far this season – “I thought he was solid all weekend. He’s really reliable out there, in both ends of the ice. Maybe you can chalk up (any negative comments) to it being early in the year – you know, getting those early game jitters out. But, I thought he was really solid all weekend. He was a guy North Dakota really looked to to spark something for them, either to get things going or settle things down. So, I thought he had a good weekend.”
* On the goal he set up on Saturday, giving him his first point of the season – “I got the puck on the blueline and I threw it down to one of my teammates down by the net, he slid it across and our captain buried it.”
Note: Lowry, Forbort and Nick Shore (University of Denver) can all be seen on TV this Friday, as their games will be carried by various cable channels (including channels 603 and 617 on DirecTV). Unfortunately, the bigger series, from a Kings perspective, won’t be televised locally – that would be Gravel vs. Mersch.
For more information on the Kings top prospects – including the MayorsManor rankings of the top ten prospects in the organization – click here…or feel free to check out some of the related articles linked below.