After coming up short in a 3-2 loss yesterday against the Colorado Avalanche, the Ducks prospects admitted they could perform better, and today they backed up those words in the form of a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks in the Rookie Showcase finale.
Led by Nick Ritchie's game-high two goals, the Ducks also got tallies from Kevin Roy, Max Jones and Keaton Thompson, while Kevin Boyle and Antoine Samuel combined to stop 34 of 37 shots at the Ice Centre at the Promenade.
"We were better-organized [today]," said Dallas Eakins, who served as head coach of the Ducks prospects. "Yesterday's game, especially in the first period, there was a lot of nervousness even though we practiced a couple times. Today, we looked like a team rather than a bunch of players that were thrown together."
Eakins says nerves might've gotten the best of some of his players yesterday because of what's at stake for many of them.
"There's a lot going on," Eakins said, on the importance of rookie camp. "For some guys, it's their first shot at an NHL training camp. There are other guys that want to show well because they may have a chance to make the big club. There are other guys that are looking to re-claim their careers. With that comes a little bit of nerves early."
With new-look line combinations, the Ducks came out with gusto, jumping on the Sharks with goals from Roy and Jones in a spirited opening 20 minutes that also included two fights at the tail end of the period.
"On a personal level, it was a little bit of a step from yesterday," said Ritchie. "I'm not game-ready yet, but I'm getting there. It won't be long before I feel really good."
For the second consecutive game, Ducks junior invite defenseman Darian Skeoch (6-4, 205), dropped the gloves, this time against Sharks forward Jake Marchment (6-4, 220) with 17 seconds remaining in the opening stanza. Then it was Anaheim center Tyler Morley's turn, who, at 5-8, 180, gave up 30 pounds to the much bigger Timo Meier (6-0, 210).
Boyle, who stopped 24 of 27 shots yesterday, turned aside all 13 attempts in the first period before being replaced by Samuel for the remainder of the game.
"Boyle had a great showing in net, and I thought he played well yesterday," said Eakins. "We just played him the 20 minutes today, and I thought he was really good."
The Ducks would increase the lead to 3-0 in the second period on Ritchie's power-play goal at the 1:21 mark, with assists to Julius Nattinen and 2016 third-round draft pick Joshua Mahura.
San Jose's push came midway through the middle frame on consecutive goals from forward Jermaine Loewen and defenseman Jason Fram, both invites to the Sharks' rookie camp.
Anaheim would make it a two-goal lead once more on Thompson's unassisted goal at the 1:16 mark of the third period.
But the Sharks would respond, this time on a goal from defenseman Tyler Nother that cut the Ducks' lead to 4-3 with under seven minutes remaining.
With the San Jose net empty and the clock winding down, Ritchie sealed the victory with an empty-net goal in the closing seconds of regulation.
The Ducks peppered Sharks goaltender Jamie Murray with 45 shots today, and finished the showcase with 77 shots on goal.
"When the shots are going your way, 90 percent of the time you're playing well and things are going well," said Eakins. "That was good to see. I thought our defense played really well today."
Julius Nattinen earned an assist in the victory, and finished the showcase with a team-high three points (1g/2a) in two games.
Nick Ritchie recorded a game-high two goals in the win, while Kevin Roy (1g/1a) and Joshua Mahura (2a) each recorded two points in the victory.
Nick Sorensen's assist on Ritchie's empty-net goal gave him two points (both assists) in two games.
Shea Theodore wore the 'C' for Anaheim, while Nick Ritchie and Brian Cooper wore the 'A's.
More from Ritchie
On the game
"That Colorado team yesterday played well and were relentless on us early. Not that we were amazing today, but we were better. It's tough bringing a bunch of young guys together to play, when no one has really played together. For what we had, as far as systems, we followed it pretty well. It's a good step heading towards training camp."
More from Eakins
On the different stages of camp
"It's like climbing stairs. To get through the end of camp, it's quite a staircase. They've taken the first couple of steps and haven't fallen down them. Now, they'll get ready for the big camp. That'll bring on another set of challenges, nerves and obstacles. But it looks like most of our young men here are well-prepared for it."
On Ritchie's performance today
"I know it maybe didn't show up on the scoresheet so much, but I thought he was solid in his positioning. I thought he was working hard to create chances. I thought he sacrificed his body today by blocking shots, which is great to see. I thought he was OK here, but as he plays with better players, his performance will be better."
|SCORING || || || || || || |
|Team ||Per. ||Goal ||Assist ||Assist ||Time ||PP/SH |
|ANA ||1 ||63 Roy ||76 Mahura || ||10:30 ||EV |
|ANA ||1 ||46 Jones ||63 Roy || ||14:13 ||EV |
|ANA ||2 ||37 Ritchie ||52 Nattinen ||76 Mahura ||1:21 ||PP |
|SJ ||2 ||94 Loewen ||80 Marchment || ||10:23 ||EV |
|SJ ||2 ||78 Fram ||93 Balcers ||90 Nother ||15:14 ||PP |
|SJ ||3 ||90 Nother ||92 Chatfield || ||13:12 ||EV |
|ANA ||3 ||66 Thompson || || ||1:16 ||EV |
|ANA ||3 ||37 Ritchie ||59 Sorensen || ||19:50 ||EN || || || |
|PENALTIES || || || || || || |
|Team ||Per. ||Player ||Min. ||Offense ||Time || |
|SJ ||1 ||60 Chartier ||2:00 ||Tripping ||3:56 || |
|ANA ||1 ||63 Roy ||2:00 ||Cross Checking ||6:45 || |
|ANA ||1 ||88 Skeoch ||5:00 ||Fighting ||19:43 || |
|SJ ||1 ||80 Marchment ||5:00 ||Fighting ||19:43 || |
|ANA ||1 ||56 Cooper ||2:00 ||Roughing ||19:43 || |
|SJ ||1 ||92 Chatfield ||2:00 ||Roughing ||19:43 || |
|ANA ||1 ||60 Morley ||5:00 ||Fighting ||19:58 || |
|SJ ||1 ||28 Meier ||5:00 ||Fighting ||19:58 || |
|ANA ||2 ||53 Theodore ||2:00 ||Interference ||3:15 || |
|SJ ||2 ||92 Chatfield ||2:00 ||High Sticking ||4:15 || |
|ANA ||2 ||56 Cooper ||2:00 ||Tripping ||13:09 || |
|ANA ||2 ||83 Kossila ||2:00 ||Tripping ||15:41 || |
|ANA ||3 ||53 Theodore ||2:00 ||Hooking ||13:46 |
Nick Ritchie 'A' - Julius Nattinen - Nick Sorensen
Tyler Soy - Sam Steel - Zack MacEwen
Alex Dostie - Kalle Kossila - Deven Sideroff
Max Jones - Tyler Morley - Kevin Roy
Joshua Mahura - Shea Theodore 'C'
Keaton Thompson - Andy Welinski
Brian Cooper 'A' - Darian Skeoch