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Prospects Wrap-up Rookie Faceoff

Arizona hosts, posts 1-1-1 record

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes put a cap on the 2021 Rookie Faceoff tournament Monday afternoon at Gila River Arena. The 27-player prospect-laden roster completed the tournament with a 1-1-1 record.

The Arizona rookies began the showcase with a 5-2 win Friday over the Vegas Golden Knights; they fell, 2-1, in a shootout Sunday to the Los Angeles Kings, and dropped the finale, 5-4, Monday to the Anaheim Ducks.

Tucson Roadrunners head coach Jay Varady, and Roadrunners assistant coaches Steve Potvin and John Slaney, were behind the bench for the tournament; Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny and his NHL staff analyzed from afar. 

"(We had) a really attentive group," Varady said. "Right from the very beginning when we got together, (the players) listened to the message. They tried to apply the message. They were involved the whole time. For a while, it was like a team. Those guys were together through the whole process and I thought they did a good job of molding during this short period. When you do that, it's fun."

The Coyotes nearly finished the tournament without a regulation loss. The Ducks scored Monday's game-deciding goal with 1.7 seconds left.

"Our group had fun competing," Varady said. "We saw it in the games. We had a good work ethic all the way through, which is exciting. It makes the experience better. We (always) pushed back, and that's important. Those are the types of players we're looking to bring into this organization to help grow."

Dylan Guenther and Ben McCartney led the Coyotes in rookie scoring with three goals apiece.

Guenther, 18, was selected No. 9 overall in the first round of the 2021 draft. He said the tournament was a nice welcome to the pro environment. 

"You get to play at a pro rink and your day is centered around hockey," Guenther said. "That's what NHL players do day in and day out. So, I thought we did pretty well. We were in all three games. It's something we can take and move on to the next stage." 

The Edmonton native is known for his shot; he was regarded, by some, as having the best shot in the 2021 draft class.

"A strong part of my game is shooting," Guenther said. "I had some goals and some success here, and I think I could have had a couple more too. I think if I just keep shooting, they're going to go in."

Guenther credited his teammates for much of his tournament success, especially his linemates.

"I played with (Maxim) Landry, (Matias) Maccelli and (Ben) McCartney. Landry and Maccelli are playmakers and I'm primarily a shooter. So, I think our games complement each other pretty well. Ben, he can just do everything. He's a power forward who can make plays and score goals. I played against him in the Western League (WHL) and he was a really good player. So, I'm excited that I'm on his side now."

McCartney, selected in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, scored in the opening game and scored two goals in the final game.

"I think I played well," said McCartney, who participated in his first pro camp. "But I'm still not satisfied. The next few days (at main training camp) it's with the big boys, and that's what really matters, seeing if you can keep up with them. I thought I did a good job at rookie camp, but I'm still not satisfied."

He wants to make an impression. 

"It feels good, it's good for the confidence," he said. "But I've got to give credit to the guys I was playing with. (Guenther) played a really good game and Landry played a really good game. It's really good to have a night like that going into main camp. I'm happy with myself. I think it's important to give it your all in these tournaments. You know people are watching, and I thought everyone did a really good job." 

Main training camp begins Thursday, September 23.

"My focus is to use the information that I've learned so far," Guenther said. "Just like how I had to adjust to the pace of play for (rookie camp), it's going to get to the next level again. So, I'm going to have to be ready for that, be ready to learn, and just take whatever information I can collect and use it moving forward."

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