ANAHEIM, CA – Yes, it’s still preseason, but hockey withdrawals have kicked in hard enough that you should be ready for any kind of hockey.
Over 10,000 fans proved this Monday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim. For the second year in a row, the San Diego Gulls hosted the Ontario Reign in their parent club’s barn. The affair is free to all who want to go as long as you’re willing to brave the traffic & wander around the parking lot for 20 minutes.
For the game itself, both clubs iced a combination of recent assignments from the NHL and the closest hopefuls for a roster spot.
The Reign started with Peter Budaj in net, hoping he can continue his amazing record from last year. Their defensive corps were a bit thin as the Reign know they had more help coming from the Kings (as evidenced by Paul Bissonnette playing defense for the game). At forward, the names were mostly familiar from either the regular season or the post season. Justin Gutierrez and T.J. Hensick were the notable newbies putting on the Reign sweater for the second time (their first time was last Thursday, but it was a 10am game so it doesn’t count).
The Gulls had more new faces on their roster, starting with Dustin Tokarski in net whom the Ducks acquired from Montreal. Tokarski looks to be their starter this year & definitely had a strong showing during the game. Other Gulls notables were Kevin Roy (2 points & a force on the ice), Julius Nattinen (thought to be headed back to junior, but looks good enough to stick around) and Nick Tarnasky (not to be confused with Tokarski, even though he will be).
With game recaps available on the team sites, we decided to just list some take-aways from the game:
- Budaj did not look good. Either he has an inch of rust that needs to be knocked off or he had a very bad night.
- Conversely, Jack Campbell looked very good, stopping three squeaky close calls in the third.
- The Reign are not the most fleet-of-foot team. The Gulls consistently beat them to pucks, the net, down the ice & back to the bench.
- The Reign need to work on their pass selection. Blind drop passes to Gulls, behind the back passes to Gulls and passes through too much traffic ended up going the other way more often than not, catching guys deep.
- Tokarski is pretty good. If he can keep it up all season, the Gulls will be a frightening team.
- These teams still hate each other, and that hatred only looks to be getting stronger.
- Finally – it’s preseason. We saw many of the same issues in last year’s preseason. There should be no panicking until the first week of November.