Although the Ontario Reign fell to the Tucson Roadrunners 4-2 on Monday afternoon — their first loss of the preseason — Kings prospect Akil Thomas stayed red hot, scoring another goal.
GM1 – @AkilThomas2 scored in shootout
GM2 – Thomas scored
GM3 – Thomas scored pic.twitter.com/KYcqbAwTFq
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) January 25, 2021
Following the game, here’s what he had to say…
On his early impressions of pro hockey
There have been a lot of adjustments I’m trying to make every period. We have some good chemistry on our line. I’m just trying to add a little something to my game every period, try to learn a couple things because the transition from junior to pro is pretty hard. I’m just trying to do the best I can and I’m lucky to have two linemates that make it look pretty easy.
On preparing for games in these unique times
We’re still able to kind of do the things we need to do. At Staples Center, there are borders [between guys in the locker room] so you can’t really talk to the buddy next to you. That’s a little bit weird. We have a pretty good setup here. I’m pretty used to it now. There are just a couple things we have to think about before coming to the rink, like checking the app and making sure our temperatures are good, then coming to the rink and doing a COVID test. We have to have a mask on all the time, sometimes I’ll get up to get a Gatorade and I forget that my mask is on. There are little differences like that, but for the most part it’s fine.
On if his time in Berlin helped him get up to speed quicker than some other players who were off for 10 months
It did. We had a lot of free time after practice in Berlin and I put 20 pounds this off season. I’ve kind of noticed my shot is harder. The coaches in Berlin helped me with that. They kind of made me feel confident in my shot. So during my time there I was thinking about maybe shooting a little bit more. I think one thing we all know the Kings need is more scoring. I just want to continue to add to my game and them that I can put the puck in the net. I think they know that I can make plays and stuff like that. I definitely want to start shooting the puck a little bit more and scoring a few more goals.
On what Mikey Eyssimont adds to the line and how he’s helped him make the adjustment to pro hockey
I think the biggest thing is, he brings it every shift. He wants to make something happen every shift. He shoots the puck a lot. You see it in practice, where he kind of scores goals from weird angles. It’s something I’ve thought about kind of doing too, but on my other side, Byron’s really easy to play with. He’s always moving his feet. I always know that I can chip it into a space for him to go get it. Overall, I think we bring energy every shift and we’re also pretty reliable in the d-zone, as well.
On getting to know new coach John Wroblewski and his communication style
It’s awesome. I love coach. [Alex Turcotte] told me a little bit about him before coming here, but to see it first hand, it’s been awesome. I really like him. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, not even so much about hockey, but just about having a pro mentality and bringing the energy every day. If we do well, he tells us. I’ve never really had a coach to kind of reward us when we put the effort in and we have good practices. It’s been really positive vibes and I love working for him. I want to get better every day. I believe he’s crucial to me having a better adjustment to pro hockey than maybe I expected. It’s awesome and I’m really excited to learn as much as I can from him.
On if having so many other players around the same age in camp has helped him acclimate quickly
When you look at how many prospects we have, it’s not a secret, we all know it’s a pretty rich organization when it comes to the young guys. Every day it’s a competition and we all want to get better. Our goal isn’t to spend our whole career with Ontario, obviously we want to make the NHL one day. We have to be a team at the same time. We’re all kind of competing against each other and we’re all good guys, so it’s a really good competitive environment. It’s awesome to learn a few things off of some guys here. We’re all young and kind of learning off each other, so it’s a perfect environment.
On what he learned from today’s game, coming off a big win yesterday
What I learned, pro hockey is a little bit different. In junior, when you take it to a team, maybe they come out kind of flat the next day. Here, it’s pretty much whoever shows up can win. We went up 5-0 yesterday and they almost came came back too, so things can change really quick in pro hockey. All it takes is one mistake to change the game. That just reminds me that I have to be responsible in the d-zone at all times, no matter what the score is. We fell short today, but I think preseason is more about how we play and how we respond to some things. I thought we fought back pretty good today. We’re not gonna win every single game this season, but I’d rather play like that when we lose.
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