LA Kings Darryl Sutter On Dustin Brown: “We Need Him To Play The Role That He’s Played For Us When We’ve Been A Successful Team”

LA Kings forward and captain Dustin Brown, shown here
addressing the crowd at Staples Center in Los Angeles during
the team’s 2014 Stanley Cup Championship Rally.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings are on a roll, having won five straight games, not to mention ending December with a franchise record in wins and points, earning a 10-3-1 record (21 points) last month.

The Kings end a stretch in which they will have played 16 of their last 22 games on the road tonight in Denver where they will face the Colorado Avalanche. But heading into tonight’s contest, the Kings have earned an impressive 9-4-2 record in the 15 previous road games with play that has been at least somewhat reminiscent of how they played during their playoff run in 2012, leading to the first Stanley Cup Championship in what was then their 45-year history.

Especially during their previous road trip in which they earned a 4-0 record against Phoenix, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary—all Pacific Division rivals, one player stood out, not only because of his strong play, but also because of his previous lack of production.

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LA Kings LW Michael Mersch Talks About Move Up To The NHL, First NHL Goal

LA Kings left wing Michael Mersch
(click above to view larger image)
Photo courtesy National Hockey League

EL SEGUNDO, CA — For many National Hockey League rookies, it takes dozens of games, often a lot more than that, for them to record their first NHL point, let alone score their first NHL goal.

For Los Angeles Kings rookie left wing Michael Mersch, it took just nine games.

The 6-2, 218-pound native of Park Ridge, Illinois scored his first NHL goal and tallied his first NHL point at the 5:42 mark of the second period on December 29, helping lead the Kings to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

Mersch, whose game is trademarked by his net-front presence, scored the goal in typical Michael Mersch fashion, as he won a loose puck battle in the right corner, and then took the puck straight to the front of the net. Using a power move, he took the puck to the goalmouth and slid it between the leg pads of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.

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LA Kings Prospect Watch: Center Nic Dowd

>LA Kings center prospect Nic Dowd (center, wearing number 26), shown here during a game with the
American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — When the Los Angeles Kings played their first game as a member of the National Hockey League in 1967, hockey in California seemed laughable. The only snow was an hour or two away in the San Bernadino Mountains, and most locals had never seen ice hockey on national television, so would there even be a fan base to build from?

Today, Southern California plays host to two NHL teams, a pair of minor league affiliates for both franchises, and countless developmental programs for youth that have led youngsters to careers across all forms of professional hockey, not to mention one of the largest growing fan bases.

One of those minor league teams is the Ontario Reign, now the American Hockey League affiliate of the Kings.

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Goalie Peter Budaj Is Resurrecting Pro Career With Ontario Reign, LA Kings

LA Kings number three goaltender, Peter Budaj, shown here playing
for the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
{click above for larger image}
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — It wasn’t all that long ago when the Los Angeles Kings looked completely set in goal for the foreseeable future.

The Kings’ number one netminder, Jonathan Quick, now a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, has established himself as an elite goaltender, a superstar in the National Hockey League.

Behind Quick was Martin Jones, who went undrafted, but was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent, and developed in their system. He played well enough to raise his trade value to the point where they could use him to acquire proven left wing Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins last summer.

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Scout.com’s Taylor Blake Ward Joins Frozen Royalty

Taylor Blake Ward (right)

LOS ANGELES — On December 20, publisher Gann Matsuda announced that Taylor Blake Ward, who covers the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Scout.com and Valley Bay News, has joined Frozen Royalty, covering the American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign, the primary minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings.

“I’m thrilled that Taylor has agreed to join Frozen Royalty,” said Matsuda. “As he’s shown in his Angels coverage, he’s a professional. He’s a journalist who will provide nothing less than the high quality, objective coverage of the Reign, and of the Kings prospects playing there, that has always been what Frozen Royalty has strived to bring to readers.”

Ward, 24, a native of Lake Arrowhead, California, grew up playing ice hockey as a winger at the Ice Castle of Lake Arrowhead, which served as training grounds for the Kings in the 1990’s, where he found an instantaneous bond with the Kings in the early 1990’s, after meeting Kings legend, Luc Robitaille.

Ward, who will primarily provide feature stories on the Reign, has followed the Kings since 1991, and was present for their first Stanley Cup victory in 2012. He plays hockey in pickup games in the Inland Empire and Sierra Mountain Range, and plays ball hockey in the summer.

In 2012, Ward served as the Media Relations Director for the High Desert Mavericks, who were the Seattle Mariners Class-A Advanced affiliate, at the time (now affiliated with the Texas Rangers), and began his writing career soon after in 2013 for Scout Media.

Ward has followed the Reign since their inaugural season in the ECHL in 2008.

“It’s been hard to contain my excitement about covering hockey once again,” said Ward. “I truly enjoy seeing the development of players, from the junior and college ranks, to the highest minor league levels, and I hope that enjoyment can be seen through my reporting. As much as I enjoy covering baseball, hockey runs in my blood line and is my true passion.”

You can follow Ward on Twitter at @taylorblakeward.


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