EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tanner Pearson never thought he would play with the big club when the Los Angeles Kings called him up from Manchester of the American Hockey League.
Pearson thought he would simply play with the Black Aces and act as a sort of practice squad for the regulars. But he was told the day of Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks that he would make his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It all came to reality when I first stepped on the ice to start the first with all the fans going crazy. It was pretty loud in that building but it was fun to be a part of it,” Pearson said Sunday.
Pearson, 20, is a story of persistence and patience, having been passed over in the NHL Draft twice before the Kings picked him 30th last season. He was a stick and water boy for the Kitchener Rangers, although not at the time that Kings teammate Mike Richards played there.
“If someone would have told me about three years ago that I would be doing this today, I probably would have shook my head and laughed,” Pearson said. “But, honestly, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. And to see it happen so quick, it’s been really awesome. To have my first game as a playoff game, it shows what the League’s all about and what you compete for.”
Pearson played 5:44 minutes in Game 3, at fourth-line left wing. Considered to be more of a two-way power forward than top forward prospect Tyler Toffoli, Pearson figures as one of the organization’s promising wings.
Sutter said he wanted to give Pearson more ice time but the game, a 2-1 overtime loss, dictated otherwise. Sutter downplayed making a debut in the postseason.
“What’s the big deal? He’s played in bigger games than that,” Sutter said “He represented his country in World Junior last year as a significant part of it. I don’t think last night’s game would have been any bigger than those.”
Game 4 is Tuesday at HP Pavilion (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).