The 2nd game of the Rookie Tournament for the Baby Ducks was a chippy affair and had little to no flow in parts but it did feature some very positive signs for some of the less heralded youngsters in the organisation.
Anaheim eventually came out 5-2 winners after being down 2-1 at one point in the game.
I won’t do the full recap as I didn't have time to do one, but much like the first game I did make some notes on the players in action.
#59 - Jack Kopacka: A
Got the 2nd goal and it was pretty, a great team-effort and beautiful passing play on the rush between he, Lundestrom and Sherwood. Sherwood had the final feed across the crease. Made some nice moves in the 3rd period creating himself some space and challenging the blue-line, his game seemed to improve as the game went on,
#48 - Isaac Lundestrom: A
Wasn't afraid to go for a skate. On one play taking it from his own zone across the lower hash marks and up to the Avalanche zone. Kid has a lot of spunk. Looked brilliant with the man advantage, carrying play, holding the puck and trying to get somebody open for a shot. Seriously so much spunk. On the last goal he chased down and stripped the last defender of the puck near the empty net and scored. All of the spunk.
#64 - Keifer Sherwood: A+
It was Pettersson last game that looked like a man against boys but in this game it was Sherwood, he was calm, confident and shifty. Making deft moves in his own zone to shake fore-checkers. He created the 3rd goal all by himself, isolating the defender, making the hit, getting the puck, then shifting into scoring position before looking off Lundestrom and putting it top shelf. Kid might get the brass looking closely during big camp if he keeps this up.
#53 - Max Comtois: A-
Showed a lot more of the nasty to his game. Constantly jarring with his opposite wing on face-offs. Could have some pest in him. Offensively seemed a little disjointed, like he was caught between wanting to get the cycle game going but then remembering he had been coached to play something different. I don’t know I might be reading too much into that. Scored the first goal by following up the play with Soy and beating the goaltender one on one in front.
#85 - Tyler Soy: B+
Looked bigger than I thought, reminded me a tiny bit of Kase on the fore-check, quick to retrieve pucks and tenacious. Setup the first goal by getting the turnover with a good hit and retrieving the puck then sending it to a wide open Comtois in front. Showed surprising strength there. Seemed to fade as the game went on. Would have liked to see him test the defense one on one on more than one occasion but instead he always opted to pass.
#90 - Giovanni Fiore: A-
Threw his body around A LOT. Made some nice moves in the 3rd to create space for himself entering the zone. Also seemed to take an active captaincy role, talking to the refs before face-offs. He had a confidence to his game that only got better as the game went on.
#54 - Antoine Morand: A-
Was more noticeable in the first, made some good moves to slow down the play and find the open man. Settled more into a defensive role as the game went on, worked well with Groulx. Was VERY good on the 5-on-3 holding the puck and overall I think he played a much better game than the one against the Baby Kings.
#50 - Benoit-Olivier Groulx: B
Looked MUCH MUCH better in this game, had a great chance in front in the first, made a great pass out front to Hults less than a minute into the second. Took a silly penalty while shorthanded that put his team down two men late in the 3rd. Other than the silly penalty he looked solid on the Penalty Kill.
#87 - Mitch Hults: B-
I didn't take any notes on Hults because he essentially played the same game as the night before. Heavy hitting and crashing the net whenever possible. He had a couple of chances but wasn't electrifying. Seems to be embracing the grinder/energy guy role and again was always in the middle of any post whistle scuffle.
#69 (nice) - Justin Ducharme: B
Looked ok in a defensive forward role except that he got caught up ice on the penalty kill and possibly should have held back when Sherwood had a shorthanded rush (which lead to the Avs first goal). He didn't make many other mistakes during the game and redeemed himself by setting up the 4th goal and made a very nice pass doing it. I dont see the Ducks giving him a contract right away but they will probably keep an eye on him in Juniors this season.
#52 - Julius Nattinen: A-
Looked a heck of a lot more confident, played with speed and determination and an air of experience. Had a few fumbles and fanned shots. Was good down low helping the defenders with the breakout and generally looked calm under pressure. He scored the 4th goal and made it look easy, a high wrist shot on a 2-1 with Ducharme.
#70 - Kyle Olson: C
Wasn't terribly great offensively but didn't make any mistakes either. Did attempt to slow things down in the Avs zone at one point to try set up a play. He was injured for the last rookie tournament so I haven't been able to see him play much. He has one more year left of Junior but at this stage I wouldn't put too much stock in him.
#86 - Simon Benoit: B+
Looked good again. Made the small, simple but smart plays. His 4 foot pass lead to the breakout that ended in the 2nd goal by Kopacka. Was solid on the 5 on 3. At this point I would have preferred the Gulls had signed him over the recent blueline depth signings..
#72 - Hunter Drew: A-
Best defender on the Ducks not named Mahura. Yes even better than Pettersson tonight. Seemed to have gotten under the skin of a few Avs players, (Anderson in particular) and much like Benoit did in the last game - made me fondly think of Josh Manson.
#89 - Terrance Amorosa: B
Was largely unnoticeable in the first except for a very good carry and zone entry. Showed good poise and speed. Seems to like to join the rush a lot and has a bit of “rover” to his game. Reminded me of a raw Shea Theodore. Seemed a little over matched defensively at times.
#77 - Scott Moldenhauer: C-
Wasn't really noticeable except when he got absolutely smoked at his own blue-line in the first. Seems pretty lanky and will need to put on some muscle. Got horribly out played for a puck in his own zone late in the third.
#28 - Marcus Pettersson: B+
Did not play as good a game as the night before. Made a few mistakes and missed a hold at the blue line on one play. Took the late penalty in the 2nd which looked to be a dangerous knee on knee hit when he got beaten cleanly. He looked very good on the 3rd period power-play, with a great keep and some good looks and cross ice passes. If Larsson has a very good game against the Coyotes in the final game, the competition for that 3rd pairing spot is back on.
#76 - Josh Mahura: A
Looked even better than the last game, made some heady plays, protecting the puck, slowing it down and escaping the fore-check for clean breakouts. Possibly showed a reluctance to shoot, opting to pass when in a perfect position on the rush in the 2nd. Made a nice pass on the 4 on 4 late in the 3rd finding Pettersson who had managed to sneak down low.
#1 - Lukas Dostal: A
Couldn't really be blamed for the first two goals and after the 2nd marker got by him he was instrumental in weathering the storm when the Baby Ducks looked lost in their own zone. His style seemed to be aggressive to the shooter and he has a good glove, using his speed to make up for his lack of size. Did not stand out as much as Eriksson Ek did in the previous game but mostly because he didn't have to face any breakaways.
Lundestrom had another strong game and I will admit that my hype surrounding Martin Kaut at the draft may have been a little too high given his play in this game. Lundestrom vastly outplayed him. It is interesting to note that Kaut appears to be making the jump and going straight to the AHL this year.
The next and final game of the tournament is against the Coyotes on Tuesday. I would imagine Terry and Steel will be back in, as well as Dostie and Sideroff. Sherwood, Kopacka and Comtois will probably get the night off. On the back-end we should see the return of Larsson - who will be watched very closely and I imagine that Pettersson will sit. If Benoit gets another game it should indicate that the brass are definitely liking what they see from him.