Kings prospect Nic Dowd on Mersch, Zykov, and the Ontario Reign

Dowd Nic Ontario Reign MayorsManor AHL 2015-10-31 by IkiriLA Kings prospect Nic Dowd, who is expected to be listed in the next installment of our 2015-16 Early Season Rankings (hint, hint), recently caught up with MayorsManor, where the Alabama native and former college hockey player talked about assuming one of the key roles at center for the Ontario Reign this season, how to help Michael Mersch, and the skills of Valentin Zykov. Take a look…

On Kris Newbury being out of the lineup and how it impacts his game:

“Personally, I’m pretty fortunate. I’ve still been able to play with Mersch and Zykov, who I’ve been playing with the majority of the season; so personally it didn’t affect me too much. Team-wise, I think we have enough talent and we have enough depth where one guy goes down, another guy has to fill that spot, doesn’t matter who it is. But I like having Newbs around in the locker room, [especially because] I sit by him. He does bring a veteran presence and he brings a lot of grit to his game, so I think that gives other guys the ability to play that way too. And, like I said, I mean the guy’s been playing in the league for 13 years, up and down, so it’s obviously going to impact the team a little bit, but I’m sure [coach Stothers] would say the same thing, ‘One guy goes down, another guy has to step up.’ “

On recently breaking through with his first goal of the season:

“It felt good to get the first one out of the way. It took me almost ten games last year and they didn’t come as easy as I hoped they would; so, yeah, it felt good to get that one out of the way and I’m just happy to contribute to the team. I think we have a lot of guys that can score, so I don’t think we’re worried about [the offense overall].”

On the progress of his development, especially with several of the ‘big name’ prospects moving on from last year’s team:

“Last year was my first year and we had a lot of good centers. The two guys are up in the NHL right now, so obviously speaks for itself; but I’m just happy for the opportunity and happy to log more minutes and develop more, and hopefully get up there just like they did. Everyone says you have to pay your dues, and you keep getting better each day and each year, and eventually you’ll find yourself up there. I think everyone has the same philosophy.”

On the difference between developing this season compared to maybe flying under the radar last season:

“There is something to be said for flying under the radar, you get to play teams’ third and fourth lines compared to playing their first and second lines. That makes a big difference. You know, first and second D-pairings, stuff like that, so that does make a difference. At the same time, you’re never going to fully develop into that player unless you start playing those minutes. So, it’s a catch 22, and I think anybody would rather be playing more than playing less and being under the radar. So, like I said, I’m just happy to get that opportunity.”

On his two wingers, starting with Michael Mersch being the flavor-of-the-month topic coming out of camp:

“He should be. He’s fun to play with. He wins a lot of puck battles, extends a lot of plays, which is huge in pro hockey because you get out there for 25-30 seconds; if the other team has the puck possession game, that’s it, your shift is over and then you go to the next one. So, he extends a lot of plays. I think I have to do a better job of getting him the puck in front of the net, and getting him the puck down low. I tend to hold onto it a little bit at the half wall and try and make plays. But I know Mikey’s game is below the goal line, and I think that in order to make him successful and get him better, and make myself better, I think maybe we should get him the puck a little bit more down there.”

On Mersch’s turnaround, from a guy struggling badly at the beginning of last season to pouring it on in the playoffs – and his continued offensive surge to the start of this season:

“He came from scoring 22-23 goals in college, which is tough to do. Personally, knew that he had it in him. I think other people did too — just watch him in college hockey. He definitely found his rhythm, though. He got to play with [Jordan] Weal and [Brian] O’Neill for the majority of the second half of last season. That’s going to help a lot. To their credit, those two create a lot around the ice, and then Mikey was able to stand in front [of the net], and he’s great in front. I don’t think he shot a puck in the net last year. He’ll say the same thing; playing with those two is awesome. I’d love to play with them too, I think anybody would. He has definitely found his rhythm and happy to see him turn it around.”

On his other winger, Valentin Zykov – and if he continues to be underrated, despite being one of the better players on Reign roster right now:

“I think that fuels him. I think that could fuel any player. He does do a lot of underrated stuff. I mean, coming from when he battles on the power play. Once again, extending plays; stuff like that, it’s crucial. To the untrained eye, people may not see it, but as a hockey player and as a linemate, it gives you so much more opportunity. He can also shoot the puck, he can score goals and he does have a touch. Even in practice; he has a rocket. I think if we get him the puck a little bit more, get him releasing a little bit more, good things will happen.”

BONUS QUOTES FROM MERSCH

Mersch on the fans in Ontario:

“It’s fun, it’s really fun. It was a great time in Manchester last year when we were able to win for the fans there, so that was awesome. There’s a lot of support behind us here and a lot of excitement with us being a new team out here. “

Mersch on being the last player cut from training camp last month:

“[Coach Sutter] took me aside and talked to me. John Stevens took me aside and talked to me. I had some good conversations with people in the front office. There was a lot of communication from their end. they told me there is going to be a plan, just like there is a plan for everyone else on their team. My mindset has always been to keep pushing. I was fortunate to play in all the preseason games, do my part and hopefully contribute. When I get my chance, hopefully I’ll be up there for good, so we’ll see.”

Mersch on if it’s difficult to wait to be moved up:

“I don’t think it’s difficult because I love the guys on this team here, we have a lot of great guys on our team. Everybody works hard down here. I wouldn’t say difficult. You just want to keep pushing and working hard. That might be a little hard. It’s a long season and to be able to just stay focused on the moment, contribute down here and just focus on that. If my opportunity comes, it comes.”

RELATED CONTENT:

LA Kings 2015-16 Early Season Prospect Rankings: No. 9 and 10

Dowd Now Knocking On The Door As A Rising NHL Prospect – Hoven’s feature story on LAKings.com

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