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Anaheim Rookie Tournament Recap
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim hosted this year’s rookie tournament, and went 2-0-1, scoring 13 goals. Coming into this tournament, the Ducks had a major advantage: NHL experience. Technically, a number of Anaheim’s players are no longer rookies: Troy Terry, Kiefer Sherwood, Jacob Larsson, and Max Jones. However, none of them are established NHLers, and if not for an absurd number of injuries last year, most, if not all of them, would still qualify as rookies.
Anaheim Defeats Los Angeles 4-1
Anaheim’s prospects took on Los Angeles’ in game one of the tournament. The Kings took the early lead, as Arthur Kaliyev scored just over halfway into the period. After that, the Ducks took over the game. Just a few minutes later, Jones went to the front of the net and scored on the rebound to tie the game. Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Antoine Morand drew the assists on the tying goal. Just a couple of minutes later, Josh Mahura took a point shot and Max Comtois tipped it home to make it 2-1. Same Steel picked up the second assist on that goal. Early in the second, Sherwood scored to make it 3-1. Isac Lundestrom centered the puck into the offensive zone, the Kings almost got it, but Sherwood got to it first and scored on a partial breakaway. The Ducks went shorthanded several times throughout the game and finally got their first powerplay in the second period. With the extra man, Steel scored to make it 4-1. All five players on the puck touched the puck, Terry made a great cross-ice pass to Steel, and he buried it. In the third, neither team found the back of the net, and the Ducks skated off with a 4-1 win. Steel and Mahura both recorded two points in the game.
Sharks Down Ducks 5-4 In Overtime
After defeating the Kings in the first game of the tournament, the Ducks took on the Sharks in the second. Anaheim went with a much less experienced lineup in this game, and fans were treated to their first look at Brayden Tracey. As with the game against the Kings, San Jose took the early lead in the game, but Hunter Drew scored to tie the game shortly after a powerplay expired. Later in the first, Jones took a great pass from Sherwood and scored on the powerplay. The Sharks tied it up before the first was over. In the second, San Jose scored the only goal to take a 3-2 lead. Early in the third, the Sharks doubled their lead to 4-2, but Anaheim’s rookies did not give up. This time, Sherwood scored and Jones picked up the assist on the powerplay. Then, on the powerplay again, Tracey scored on a great shot to tie the game, displaying the hands that made him a first-round pick in June. The game went to overtime, and both Lundestrom and Tracey were denied on breakaways in the extra session. San Jose scored the game-winner in overtime, ending an exciting game between the two teams.
Anaheim Edges Vegas 5-3
Anaheim’s final game was against Vegas. For the first time in this tournament, the Ducks scored first, as Alex Dostie scored his first goal of the tournament in the opening period. In the second, Terry scored a pretty goal on a breakaway. Late in the period, Anaheim had a great scoring chance but was unable to score. Moments later, Vegas scored to make it 2-1 with 40 seconds left in the second. In the third, the Golden Knights tied the game up on a two on one break. Shortly after that, Terry scored his second goal of the game on a great individual effort. He stole the puck on the forecheck, went to the slot, and sniped the puck home. Later in the period, Steel scored the goal of the tournament. He skated around the entire offensive zone, deking several Vegas players, skated behind the net, put a backhand shot on net, and then scored on the rebound. The Golden Knights scored with a few minutes left to make it 4-3, but Comtois scored into the empty net to seal up the win.
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A few players really stood out in this tournament. First, Sherwood looked NHL ready. He’s in a dog fight for space on Anaheim’s right side, but he showed that he’s really gunning for a spot on the opening night roster. Steel, Terry, and Comtois took over games at various moments, showing off their skill and maturity level. Tracey looked a little tentative in his first game but got better as the game went on, eventually culminating in his goal. Drew really impressed me in this tournament. He’s got a cannon of a shot and I’m really excited to see what he can do in San Diego this year. He was quite possibly Anaheim’s best player in the second period against Vegas. All three of Anaheim’s goaltenders played very well. While John Gibson is entrenched for the foreseeable future, the team will need a new backup in the not too distant future, and it will be interesting to see how they develop this year.
The rookie tournament is over, which means that training camp is just around the corner and hockey season isn’t far behind!
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September 11th, 2019