By Kyle Shohara
On a day that began with the news of the Ducks signing goaltender John Gibson to a three-year contract extension, the club continued to ramp up the intensity as it prepares for tomorrow’s preseason opener at Colorado.
Day 4 Photo Gallery
Among the players who have stood out in camp in the eyes of Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau are youngsters Max Friberg and Jiri Sekac. Friberg led the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals in scoring last season and also made his NHL debut with the Ducks on Dec. 28 vs. Vancouver. The former fifth-round pick (143rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft skated on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Patrick Maroon during drills earlier today.
“It seems like every scrimmage he’s scoring a goal,” said Boudreau. “He’s doing something special every practice. Coaches are strange. We love [low maintenance] guys. Guys who just go out there and work because they want to play. He’s one of those guys.”
The thick-bodied Swede says his NHL debut last season served as motivation to wear the Ducks sweater on a more permanent basis.
“Hopefully I’ll have a shot at taking a jersey here this year,” said the 22-year-old. “You get that feeling of being in the NHL, and you just want to be there. It definitely motivated me to try and get this spot.”
The same can be said for Sekac, whom the Ducks acquired last February from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly. Sekac skated in 19 regular season games after the trade, but only appeared in seven of the team’s 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boudreau says it’s apparent the 23-year-old put in work over the summer.
“He looks bigger, stronger, quicker and more determined to be an everyday player,” said Boudreau. “He’s got speed, which is always a great intangible.”
Sekac says he approached his offseason training regimen with the mindset of having a breakout sophomore campaign.
“I want to do bigger things,” he said. “That’s how I prepared the entire summer.” Sekac said he spent the majority of the summer in his native Czech Republic, but also returned to Montreal for a few weeks for additional training.
With the amount of pressure he’s placing upon his shoulders, Sekac says he finds comfort in familiarity this time around.
“You know the guys and you feel more comfortable,” he said. “Everyone knows you, so you don’t have to introduce yourself to everyone. You know what to expect.”
PRESEASON BEGINS TOMORROW
The Ducks open their 2015 preseason schedule tomorrow night at Pepsi Center against the Colorado Avalanche (6 p.m. PDT). Steve Carroll and Dan Wood will call the game, which can be heard on AnaheimDucks.com.
After the game in Colorado, the Ducks return home to host the Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center on Friday (7 p.m. PDT, TV: Prime Ticket).