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Ducks Rookie Tournament Recap
By Thomas Harrington
On Monday, Anaheim’s prospects were in San Jose finishing up their annual rookie tournament. The Ducks played in three games and had a record of 1-1-1. For me, the record in these tournaments doesn’t matter, nor do the points. What matters is that these prospects get more experience, play well, and stay healthy.This was the first time I had a chance to see most of the 2022 draft class play, and I liked what I saw out of them.
Sharks Edge Ducks In Overtime
Game one saw Anaheim’s prospects facing off against San Jose’s prospects. The first period was a pretty even affair, with the Sharks scoring the only goal off a nice shot. In the second, both teams had stretches where they were the dominant team, but Anaheim was the better team overall. They were rewarded with two goals, the first coming from defenseman Noah Warren. He held the puck in at the point and just threw it at the net, and it found its way through. Brayden Tracey waved his stick at it but did not touch it. Sasha Pastujov and Mason McTavish picked up the assists. For Anaheim’s second goal, the Ducks were on the powerplay and Tristan Luneau made a great effort to keep a clearing attempt in the zone, passed the puck over to Nathan Gaucher, and Gaucher gave the Ducks the lead.
The third was another even period but was also filled with several penalties for both teams. The Sharks tied the game early in the period on one of their powerplays, but that was the only goal of the period. The game went to overtime, and just over 30 seconds into the extra session William Eklund made a great spin-o-rama move around Olen Zellweger and won the game for San Jose. No Anaheim player had more than a point in the game, and Pavol Regenda led the game with six shots. McTavish was the captain, and Drew Helleson and Regenda were the alternate captains. Gage Alexander stopped 28 of 31 shots.
Arizona Beats Anaheim 2-1
In game two, Anaheim faced off against Arizona. Helleson, Zellweger, Alexander, Max Golod, and Logan Nijhoff were given the night off. Neither team scored for most of the first period, but the Ducks received a powerplay near the end of it, and Tracey gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the opening frame. Pavel Mintyukov and Jacob Perreault picked up the assists on the goal. The second period was a penalty-filled affair as both teams took multiple trips to the penalty box. The highlight for the Ducks was when Gaucher fought Logan Dowhaniuk after Dowhaniuk leveled Perreault. Arizona scored the only goal of the period to tie it at 1-1.
In the third, both teams had two powerplays, but the Coyotes were the only ones to capitalize with the extra man and made it 2-1 with just over five minutes left in the game. The Ducks were not able to score and lost in regulation, ending a run of no regulation losses for Anaheim’s rookies at these tournaments where they had gone 11-0-3. Francesco Lapenna and Brayden Peters split time in net for the Ducks, with each playing almost exactly half of the game. Peters stopped all 19 shots he faced and Lapenna made 14 saves on 16 shots. Defensemen Warren and Luneau led the Ducks with three shots each. McTavish was Anaheim’s captain again, while Mintyukov and Regenda were the alternates.
Anaheim Beats Vegas 4-3
Regenda, Hinds, Golod, and Luka Profaca did not play in the final game. After only scoring three goals in the first two games, Anaheim’s offense came alive in the final game of the tournament. Vegas opened the scoring in this one, but Tracey scored his second of the tournament to tie the game up before the first was over. Luneua picked up the only assist. The second period was a back and forth affair: Vegas took the lead, but Perreault tied the game on the powerplay, and then Nijhoff gave Anaheim the lead on the powerplay 36 seconds later. Zellweger picked up an assist on Perreault’s goal, while Helleson and Ben King assisted on Nijhoff’s goal. But Vegas tied the game up before the second was over.
Similar to the game against Arizona, the second period was heavy on penalties, and both teams had several powerplays. In the third, Zellweger scored his first goal of the tournament on the powerplay, with McTavish picking up the assist. That proved to be the gamewinner and Anaheim won 4-3. McTavish and Zellweger both led Anaheim with five shots each, while Alexander played the entire game and stopped 21 of 24 shots. McTavish was once again Anaheim’s captain, while Tracey and Helleson served as the alternates.
Wins and points are great, but again, it’s more about how the team played overall. While the Ducks weren’t dominant in any game, they were competitive in all three games, and if the puck bounced a little differently, they could have been the winner in either loss. In a tournament like this where most of these prospects have never played together, that’s good enough for me. As long as the effort level is there, the execution will come with time.
No one player really stood out for the Ducks in terms of offensive; instead, it was a group effort. McTavish, Gaucher, Blake McLaughlin, Tracey, Pastujov, Perreault, Sean Tschigerl, King, Josh Lopina, Mintyukov, Warren, and Luneau all played in all three games of the tournament. McTavish and Luneau led the way with two assists each while Tracey led Anaheim in goals with two. McTavish, Tracey, Perreault, Zellweger, and Luneau were all tied for the team lead in points with two.
That being said, I was particularly impressed by Luneau, Warren, and Gaucher. Luneau had what was probably Anaheim’s play of the tournament where he blocked a clearing attempt and then fed Gaucher for the goal. Gaucher really impressed me with his forecheck and physical play. Warren is one of the taller players in Anaheim’s system and used his size effectively. McTavish and Zellweger didn’t light the scoreboard up, but both were noticeable on the ice throughout the tournament.
Overall, it was a good tournament for the Ducks. As far as I know there were no major injuries and most of Anaheim’s prospects played well, even if they didn’t always get the results they wanted. Training camp is just days away, and the first preseason game soon after that. Expect many of these players to get a game or two of preseason action before heading back to their junior teams or the AHL.
With the rookie tournament now over, the Anaheim Ducks announced their training camp roster today.
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September 21st, 2022