Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis have been roommates, they’ve celebrated a Stanley Cup together and now – for the first time – they’ll face off against each other when the Utah Grizzlies take on the Ontario Reign later tonight.
Drafted three years apart, both guys became full-time NHL players during the 2010-11 season. Lewis, a first round pick of the Kings back in 2006, made his NHL debut in December 2008 but only played six games that year and five the following season – while spending most of that time in the AHL.
Clifford, on the other hand, was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft and was never sent back to his junior team following training camp in September 2010.
The two rookies moved in together and quickly found out they had plenty in common, including birthdays just days apart – Lewis will turn 26 next Tuesday (a birthday he shares with Elvis Presley, hence the nickname ‘Elvis’) and Clifford will celebrate his 22nd birthday five days later.
In a twist that’s funny given the history of Presley and his longtime manager, ‘the Colonel’ Tom Parker, Clifford’s nickname is also ‘The Colonel’ – only it has nothing to so with rock-n-roll. As we first reported several years ago, Clifford’s initials are KFC, so back in his junior days they took to calling him the Colonel.
Like so many other areas of similarity, even their career stats are pretty close. Lewis has picked up 23 points in 155 NHL games, while Clifford has produced 26 points in 157 games.
So tonight in Ontario, the Colonel will meet Elvis in a match-up that was originally supposed to take place last week in Utah.
To quickly recap, Clifford had been out of the Reign line-up for a few weeks with an upper body injury. However, coach Jason Christie told us he expected him back for the series vs. the Grizzlies. Which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Then, on Christmas Eve we broke the story that Lewis had signed with the hometown Grizzlies – putting them on the ice together on December 29th, last Friday.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” said Clifford, while laughing. “I showed with my suit and everything, but apparently I wasn’t even going on the trip. They wanted me to rest for a couple more days.”
Earlier that week, the two Kings had briefly talked about the possible showdown that was to take place in Salt Lake City.
“He text me and we were chatting back and forth,” Clifford shared. “But, it was Christmas time, so we were nice to each other. We’ll save most of our chirping for when we get back to LA together (after the lockout).”
Lewis tells a bit of a different story heading into tonight’s game though.
“I challenged him to a fight, but I think he’s a little scared because I’m like a big brother to him,” said the Grizzlies newest forward.
Now, it would be great to add something like, ‘We’ll have to see where all this goes once the puck drops tonight.’ But, it’s not happening.
If there’s one glaring difference when comparing the two Kings forwards, it comes from their stat line - Lewis: 32 penalty minutes total in his entire NHL career.
Meanwhile, Clifford has racked up 141 and 123 PIM seasons - with most of those infractions related to fighting.
Still, it should be interesting to see the two on opposite sides of the puck for the first time.
Be sure to follow along on twitter, as we’ll have live updates between the whistles and post-game comments from Lewis and Clifford after things are over.
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