After not participating in last year’s NHL Rookie Faceoff due to illness, Brandt Clarke finally made his tournament debut on Friday. And the LA Kings 2021 first round pick did not disappoint. He led the team with six shots on goal and set up teammates nicely on both LA goals, recording the primary assists on markers by Frankie Pinelli and Taylor Ward.
Following the game, here’s what the 19-year-old NHL hopeful had to share with Mayor’s Manor, covering a variety of topics:
On the overall game vs. Colorado and what they need to clean up before Game 2:
We need to be crisper in the neutral zone. I feel like there were too many turnovers in the neutral zone, where no one was even around us, really. We just weren’t hard on the pucks and that’s something we really need to hone in on if we want to come out on top in these next two games. I think that was our downfall and that’s something we’re going try to clean up.
On how difficult it is to come together quickly as a team in these situations, where most guys haven’t played together before and barely know each other:
It is a bit of a challenge, for sure. I’m definitely not going to say it isn’t. Sometimes you want to call for the puck and you’re not even 100% sure who that is on the ice with you. That makes it a bit tough at times. Everyone’s talking a lot, though. Everyone feels comfortable around the boys. We’re getting to know each other really well. Hopefully by [Game 2] we’ll all be on the same page, we’ll all be really crisp, and hopefully come out with that win.
On the whole Team Canada experience, and if it’s become a chip on his shoulder that he didn’t get an opportunity to play at the World Juniors:
I don’t know. I feel like it gave me time to develop, time to hone in with my great training group back home. I never really looked at it as a negative; I looked at it as a positive. It gave me more time to rehab and more time to be around the pros that I was training with in Ottawa. If I look at it as a negative and I get down on myself, that’s not beneficial for anybody, I don’t think. I’m just a positive person. I try to take the positives out of everything.
On previously sharing his desire to make the NHL roster out of camp, and what he needs to do to realize that goal:
It’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be handed to me, but it’s something I really want to do. I think I’m really going to have to show that I’m a good puck mover, a good transition defender. I need to show that I’m reliable in the D-zone, use my good defensive stick to my advantage. That’s what it’s going to take. It’s not going to be easy; there are a lot of talented defensemen in this organization. But I really think if I play my game and I am as confident as I want to be out there, I think good things are going to happen to me, and I think I can be on the LA Kings Opening Night roster.
New Ontario Reign coach Marco Sturm also had praise for Clarke after the game…
“Clarke was solid. There are a few things we have to fix in his game – but he has something, that’s for sure. He showed it on that one assist he had. But again, we’ll try to make him better too and we’ll see what happens,” added Sturm. “He’s a special kid. But it’s going to be up to him too. He has to learn, he has to adapt; but he has a lot of tools in his box, that’s for sure.”
For Clarke, it’s either NHL or OHL this season, he isn’t eligible to play for the AHL Ontario Reign. More on that can be found in the article linked below.
Lead Photo via ALo Images
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