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Coyotes Rookies Head to LA for Two Games vs. Kings Rookies

by Dave Vest | Anthony Perez / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE – Twenty-eight of the 35 players at this year’s Coyotes Rookie Camp boarded a team bus on Tuesday afternoon and headed to Los Angeles to play a pair of games against their peers within the Kings organization on Wednesday and Thursday.

Both rookie games vs. LA will be streamed live at The first game is Wednesday at 6 p.m. and the second game is Thursday at 2 p.m.

The games represent final chances for the young players to turn some heads before the veterans report to training camp on Friday.

Ray Edwards
“The big thing is getting down there and seeing the group play together in a more competitive setting,” said Ray Edwards, the head coach of the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate who has been running the on-ice sessions of rookie camp and who will coach the Coyotes vs. LA in these games. “When you play against another opponent it’s different from playing against your own teammates (in a scrimmage). I think the intensity of the players will pick up and the compete level will pick up, and we as coaches will get to see what they’ve got.”

Winning the rookie games is important, of course, but not nearly as important as evaluating talent. Thus, the players are well aware they will be watched closely.

Lucas Lessio
“We’re all going into the games trying to make the best impressions that we can,” said forward Lucas Lessio, who is attending his first NHL rookie camp after being drafted by the Coyotes in the second round last June. “I’ve heard they’re a lot older than we are and that there were a lot of fights in last year’s rookie games with them, so I think the intensity is going to be much greater than our scrimmages. I just can’t wait to get there and play.”

The competition has been intense at this year’s Rookie Camp, but for the players skating on an amateur tryout basis, there is an even higher sense of urgency.

Forwards Chris Collins and Brendan Shinnimin are two of those players who are trying to catch the attention of General Manager Don Maloney and his staff in an effort to secure a lengthy stay at training camp and ultimately a contract. Both are on the roster for the rookie games vs. LA.

Collins, who attended last season’s rookie camp for the Carolina Hurricanes, is focused on balancing the excitement of being in a professional camp with his own personal expectations to perform.

“You don’t get too many opportunities like this in your life and even though it’s a great experience hockey-wise, it is a tryout and you’re going to get nervous, but you’re also going to be excited,” Collins said. “So far it’s been a lot of fun.”

Collins has stood out by scoring two goals in three scrimmages. But he’s trying to do more than just score at this camp.

“I’m trying to show them I’m an all-around type of guy,” said Collins, who recorded 18 goals and 23 assists in 56 games with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League last season. “I’ve got lots of speed and I can put up some offensive numbers when the time is right.”

Goalie Mark Visentin and defenseman Dylan King, who is in camp on an ATO, prepare for the games vs. LA. Photo by Norm Hall.
Shinnimin, who is attending his second rookie camp on a tryout basis, feels like he’s much more prepared for rookie camp this time around.

“I think I’ve come out here and fit pretty good, and I’ve really been able to show a lot of my attributes and I think I’ve done really well so far,” Shinnimin said. “Hopefully I’ll continue to do so.”

Shinnimin has notched 178 points over his last two regular seasons for Tri-City of the WHL, including 96 points in 60 games last year.

The native of Winnipeg is hoping that his breakout season in juniors, paired with a good showing in camp and at the two rookie games, will result in a contract.

“It’s a really good opportunity for myself to show what I can do, and not just against our own guys, but against other teams and other players,” Shinnimin said. “If I just relax and go into those games and do what I do, I think I’ll be able to show well and show them what I can do.”


• The following players did not make the trip to LA for the rookie games vs. the Kings: Defenseman Marc-Andre Dorion and forwards Scott Fleming, Alex Beauregard, Adam Kambeitz, Brandon Herrod, Blake Millman and Andrew Fritsch (injured).
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