There’s a good chance April Fools Day 2012 will be a night Mat Clark
will always remember.
|“Being around these guys and doing it all, I don’t think I’ll forget much from last night,” Clark said. “It was a pretty memorable night. Seeing the appreciation (Teemu) gets, it was really nice to see. It was definitely cool to be a part of that.” |
Lost among the roar from fans pleading with Teemu Selanne
stay with the Ducks for one more season, Clark was playing in his very first NHL game for the club.
“Being around these guys and doing it all, I don’t think I’ll forget much from last night,” said Clark, a defenseman selected by Anaheim with the 37th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “It was a pretty memorable night. Seeing the appreciation (Teemu) gets, it was really nice to see. It was definitely cool to be a part of that.”
Clark began the game paired with Lubomir Visnovsky
and finished it beside another veteran blueliner in Francois Beauchemin
. In all, he logged 11:02 of ice time and registered two blocked shots in his league debut against the Oilers. “I made some safe plays and got my feet wet a little bit,” he said. “It’s an adjustment period for me. I think it’s a good building block.”
Said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, “He was a little nervous. He said the speed is a little greater than what he is used to. As the game got along, I thought he got a little better and was moving pucks a little quicker. He never put us in trouble, which is the most important thing.”
The 21-year-old had been in his second full AHL season with Syracuse, totaling 12 points in 56 games. The Crunch are right in the middle of playoff race, currently seated as the seventh team in the Eastern Conference with a 33-27-10 record (76 points). Clark had his thoughts focused on that until his associate head coach Trent Yawney approached him with the news of his call-up to Anaheim over the weekend.
“The playoff push was at the forefront of my mind,” Clark said. “I talked to the coach down there, Trent Yawney, and he told me I would be coming up here and joining the guys. That was amazing news. I couldn’t wait to tell my family and share it with people.”
Though the move happened so quickly, Clark’s dad Graham was able to make his way to Honda Center for the game. After the 2-1 Ducks loss, father and son took in a nice meal and reminisced on the journey to this point.
“My dad being out here was awesome for me to share it with him,” Clark said. “He has been at all of my first games, first pro game, first OHL game and now first NHL game too. It was cool for the both of us. We were both pretty happy. We talked a little about the past and the game.”
Three games remain in the regular season for the Ducks and in those Clark is hoping to accrue as much knowledge as he can on what it takes to be a regular NHLer. He also has a chance leave a mark with the coaching staff in anticipation of next year’s training camp.
“That is the biggest thing right now, just learning as much as I can and kind of be a sponge,” Clark said. “I’m just trying to get a feel of what I need to do for the next camp.”
Said Boudreau, “You’ve only got one chance to make a good first impression. It’s really important for a lot of these guys because I just feel it’s going to be very competitive camp, even though we’re talking five months before it. They are going to have to put their best foot forward.”