For their 2021 NHL season finale, the Kings iced a second line comprised of all 2017 draft picks. On the surface, that doesn’t sound especially odd. Gabe Vilardi was at center, with Lias Andersson flanking him on the left side. Over at right wing was Drake Rymsha — who has played more games in the ECHL than the AHL since turning pro in 2018. Nonetheless, there he was, recalled by LA on an emergency basis earlier in the day.
Following an inconsequential loss to the Avalanche, Rymsha was still over the moon about everything that took place on Thursday. Here’s what he had to share:
On how he felt today knowing he was making his NHL debut
It’s been a long journey this year, being on the taxi squad for most of the season. I kept telling myself, ‘Work as hard as I can and have a great attitude and hopefully my number gets called.’ Lucky enough, today it was. It’s a dream come true.
On the relationships he has created being on the taxi squad all season
I can’t even pinpoint one guy. When we found out, everybody was super excited for me, and everybody has been so supportive of me and had my back. I can’t thank everybody in that room enough for sticking with me and everything else. It’s a great group in there and I can’t thank every single guy in there enough for what they’ve done for me this year.
On making his NHL debut against the franchise his father, Andrew Rymsha, played for
That’s a special moment, for sure. My dad still knows a couple people here in the building. My parents were lucky enough to come down for the game. To play my first game against the same organization my dad played for, it’s kind of a crazy coincidence. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
On if he took any moments to himself tonight to take in the moment or was to focused on the action
It was a little bit of both. A lot of the guys told me, ‘You only make your debut once.’ It was me enjoying the moment, realizing where I was and what was going on, but also being ready for my next shift.
On how the veterans on the team helped make taxi squad players feel a part of the team
We have a couple inside jokes with the taxi squad guys and a couple of the veterans. They come hang out with us in our room quite a bit. We’ve had a great relationship with everybody. I can’t thank the veterans on this team enough. [Anze Kopitar], [Drew Doughty], [Jonathan Quick], [Dustin Brown], all those core guys – they make everybody feel welcome, whether you’re on the team or on the taxi squad. It’s been a hell of a year and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
On if he is taking any mementos from the game tonight
After the first period you take the jersey off, and they give you a new one. To get the jersey from the first period of tonight is something special that I’ll hold on to the rest of my life and probably frame it.
On what it means to him to finally make it to the NHL
It’s really hard to put into words. I’ve played in the ECHL, I played in the AHL, and to finally make my debut in the NHL, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs. This moment is something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. It’s been a great journey so far and look forward to the rest of it.
Be sure to read our pregame piece on Rymsha linked below, his story is quite remarkable.
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