By Kyle Shohara
|"This is going to be a big game tonight to prove to ourselves and the staff that we can play at the next level."
-- Chris Wagner
Ducks prospects will look to bounce back when they face a rematch with Kings prospects in the second So Cal Hockey Futures Game tonight at 6 p.m. at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. A very limited amount of tickets for tonight's game can be purchased upon entry at Toyota Sports Center for $5, with proceeds from the game benefitting the Los Angeles Junior Kings Hockey Club. The game will also be streamed live on LAKings.com.
A crowd of more than 7,500 saw the Kings roll to a 6-1 victory in the opening So Cal Hockey Futures Game last Saturday night at Honda Center. Young wingers Tanner Pearson and Andy Andreoff scored two goals apiece for the Kings.
The Ducks enter tonight’s game with a chip on their shoulder and one last chance to impress before main camp begins with on-ice work on Thursday.
“We’ve been watching a lot of video and we’re analyzing our mistakes,” Emerson Etem said after the morning skate. “We’re making sure it’s not going to happen again tonight. We looked at the positives and worked on the negative aspects of last night. We should be coming out on fire.”
There were instances during Saturday’s game when the Ducks appeared to make things too fancy, and Etem said sticking to simplicity is the key to success for tonight’s game.
“A huge part of our team is small, fast, and also gritty,” he said. “We need to get on their defense, we need to be first on the forecheck and make sure we’re finishing every check.”
Chris Wagner, Anaheim’s fifth-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, says he expects a hard, physical game between the two rival teams tonight. “We’ll have something to prove after a 6-1 loss,” he said. “These teams are rivals. We’ll definitely be physical and I think we can match their physicality. They were a little more physical than us last game.”
With main camp looming on the horizon and hopes of cracking the opening night roster, tonight’s game serves as a final opportunity for Ducks prospects to make an impression.
“I thought I had a pretty good game on Saturday, but I’m not exactly happy about it,” said Wagner. “This is going to be a big game tonight to prove to ourselves and the staff that we can play at the next level.”
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm says he feels good about his time at rookie camp, and is anxious to play more games. “I think I’ve been doing pretty good,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to get some games now and get into the heat here.”
And for Etem, it’s about keeping up with good habits on this last day of rookie camp. “Make sure the bad habits aren’t creeping into my game,” he said. “Especially offensively, make sure I’m coming hard off the changes and being first on the backcheck. Just little stuff like that, that makes good habits going into main camp.”