Prospect Game Watch – Kings’ youngest player off to hot start

Fashing (#24) and his Minnesota teammates, photo courtesy of Gophers Hockey

The following article is part of a continuing series this season, where MayorsManor correspondent David Hofreiter provides commentary on prospects playing in the Canadian-based major junior leagues and US-based college hockey programs. He’ll spend time tracking a player, then offer some opinions and observations based on a single game or multiple games, depending on the points being presented.

Effort begets opportunity, but a little bit of skill doesn’t hurt, either.

Over the weekend, forward Hudson Fasching and the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers played games on back-to-back nights (a common practice in the NCAA) with Notre Dame. On Friday, Fasching had an assist in a 4-1 loss against the Fighting Irish. Then, he was a second away from having some extra headwear the following day.

Selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round (118th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Fasching is playing his first year of collegiate hockey. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Minnesota native had recorded at least one point in every game leading into Saturday’s contest, totaling three goals and six assists over the first seven games.

He continued the trend here, potting a pair of goals.  Playing right wing on the top line, Fasching also served as the big body in front of the net for the top power play unit. However, he didn’t see any action on the penalty kill or in four-on-four ice situations.

Chris Peters wrote an excellent piece featuring Fasching’s character and strong sense of family – traits Kings GM Dean Lombardi covets within the organization. It would be easy to see the appeal for this prospect from the article alone, but Fasching’s performance on the ice demonstrated what likely made him even more enticing on draft day.

From the start of the game, he demonstrated an advanced understanding of the game’s pace by drifting on the back check towards the slot to cover for his defensemen. While the two teams were in a “feeling out” phase, Fasching didn’t take unnecessary risks. He monitored things like a more seasoned player, making simple chips with the puck and used the boards to assist with line changes. This is important, because younger, talented players tend to overplay the puck or try to do too much; Fasching worked with the system.

In the offensive zone, he stayed within five feet of the net, whether to serve as a screen, support a teammate off the side of the net, or to prepare himself for battle behind the net. Consequently, Fasching scored his first goal to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead on a play generated from behind the net – an area commonly referred to as Gretzky’s office. The puck rolled to him, he banked it off the back of the net to maneuver around his defender, then made a wrap-around goal short side.

His work defensively needs some improvement. Fashcing chased the puck and his man very frequently.  Further, he lacked that anticipation, a forgivable fault for a freshman though. There were times he didn’t back check quickly, but these risks came as the game opened up. He wasn’t utilized very much on the break out, yet he had a lot of zone entries and drives to the net.

He scored his second goal of the game in the middle frame; driving through the center lane towards the net. It looked like the left wing shot the puck, and Fasching back handed a rebound short side. However, the announcers said he must have tipped it, even though they did not know who initially scored; the details are a bit sketchy, because Notre Dame did not show replays for any of the Minnesota goals. Whether it was tipped or backhanded, a goal was credited as a result of attacking the net.

Later, with Minnesota leading by one at the end of the game, he came within one second of a third tally.  Notre Dame had pulled their goalie when Fasching separated one of the Irish from the puck at center ice via a good check. He quickly fired the puck from the right wing into the empty net. But, unfortunately, time ran out before it crossed the goal line.

In terms of individual skills, Fasching was skating fast for an above average-sized player. His edge work and balance needed some work, as he fell down frequently. His wrist shot has a slow release, but it’s hard and accurate. The hand-eye coordination and quickness were top notch. Fasching played with an inconsistent physicality, especially for his frame, but he was far from soft. As stated before, he needed to improve his defensive reads and anticipation, qualities that usually come with experience and instruction.

As an overall look, Fasching had a great game. For a first year player to get top line minutes on the top-ranked NCAA school is not an easy feat. He rewarded the faith of his coach with two goals and almost managed a third. He has now scored in all eight games played this season, and has 11 points (5G, 6A), good enough for second in scoring on the team.

The Kings organization will likely not rush Fasching’s development (see other college players like Derek Forbort, Nick Shore, etc).   Between the familial foundation from the past and the torrid scoring start in the present, there is a lot to be hopeful for in the future.

UPDATE:

– After the game, Fasching shared the following comments:

Fasching Earns Big Ten Honor for efforts vs Notre Dame

For more reports from this series, please see the links below.

RELATED CONTENT:

LA Kings Prospects – early season report cards

Top 10 LA Kings prospects – 2013 pre-season rankings

Prospect Game Watch – Kurtis MacDermid vs. Nick Ebert

Prospect Game Watch – forward Valentin Zykov

Prospect Game Watch – goaltender Patrik Bartosak

Prospect Game Watch – Dominik Kubalik

Prospect Game Watch – left wing Nikolai Prokhorkin

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