Saturday night, playing in his second game since signing with the Ontario Reign, Kyle Clifford scored his first professional goal outside the NHL. Earlier today we obtained exclusive video of the play and had a chance to speak with Clifford about how it all went down.
“(Kyle) Kraemer was in on the forecheck and caused the ‘D’ to make a turnover,” he said. “Then I picked up the loose puck and just kinda took it around up the half wall and (threw) it at the net and put ‘er upstairs.”
You can see for yourself on that description…
note: Sorry for the poor quality. There isn’t a publicly available version of the game tape. The above video came directly from the coach’s private copy.
After practice today, Reign coach Jason Christie told us he plans on using Clifford in all offensive situations, including the power play – something he doesn’t really get a chance to be part of with the Kings. However, it’s worth noting that during Clifford’s final year in the OHL he netted 28 goals for the Barrie Colts.
Funny enough, Clifford – not know for being much of a chirper – says one of his current teammates might have had an up close view of more than one of those goals.
“I played against (goalie) Chris Carozzi back in junior and I scored a few against him,” he said with a wry smile.
As for the travel he experienced this past weekend during his first ECHL road trip, all things considered, he didn’t seem to mind much.
“It’s definitely different,” Clifford noted. “But, it’s not as bad as you’d think. It’s kinda junior-style, where you have the bus trip and stuff. It was only three years ago I was in junior and sitting on a bus for seven hours going to Sault St. Marie. So, it’s not that different. I’m used to it and I don’t mind it. I had the ipod, we had movies going and it’s fun to just hang out with the guys and shoot the (breeze) on the bus.”
Looking ahead now, he’ll make his home debut tomorrow night vs. the Orlando Solar Bears - and then the Reign have back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday.
“The guys have been very welcoming here and it’s been a good experience so far,” Clifford said. “I don’t think there’s going to be too much fighting down here for me though. I’m just working on my game and I’ll try to stay out of that stuff. But, I’ll stick up for my teammates if I have to. I’m not going to be looking to mess around too much though.”
Good thing because if he wants to win another bet with Kings forward Kevin Westgarth, he’s going to need to polish those goal scoring skills.
Already the winner of a nice dinner at the expense of Westgarth, following his first Gordie Howe hat trick last season, Clifford offered up a suggestion for their next wager – “Maybe the first hat trick?”
After a brief laugh, he added – “Could be a while on that one though. Don’t wait around!”
Kings players debate the MVP of last months’ charity game – Clifford in the mix