ONTARIO, CA — In his second game with the Ontario Reign, the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, 19-year-old defenseman Colten Teubert had the puck on his stick, moving it up ice with his team on a crucial power play, trailing the Phoenix Roadrunners with a little over five minutes left in their game on March 21.
A sellout crowd of 9,844 fans at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California was on the edge of their seats, hoping for a comeback.
Teubert, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (13th overall) of the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft, made a head-and-shoulder fake, trying to get past a Roadrunners forward along the right wing boards. But the next thing he knew, the puck was going back in the other direction.
Teubert got a little too cute, a little too fancy, and had the puck poked away at the red line, giving the Roadrunners a two-on-one shorthanded break. They wound up scoring an easy goal which gave them their final 4-2 margin of victory.
Despite a -2 plus/minus rating on the night, as he was also on the ice for the Roadrunners third goal—a soft goal allowed by Reign goaltender Linden Rowat, another Kings prospect who made his debut with the Reign in this game—Teubert put in an otherwise solid effort.
“I thought he had a really good game [tonight],” said Reign head coach Karl Taylor. “I thought he played well and he did the things he needs to do. He needs to be a big, strong, physical guy and I thought he did that for the most part. We need more of that from him.”
Indeed, the 6-4, 193-pound native of White Rock, British Columbia is expected to bring some solid, hard-nosed, physical play to the Ontario blue line.
“Just keep it simple, play my game, be a punishing defenseman and when I get the opportunity, do what I can do,” Teubert said about his role with the Reign. “Nothing else, really. Just play the game I played in Regina.”
Speaking of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League where Teubert scored twelve goals and contributed 25 assists for 37 points with a +9 rating and 136 penalty minutes in sixty games, the season did not end well, as the Pats finished in tenth place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, fifteen points out of the final playoff berth.
“We got off to a great start but we went through lots of injuries and especially when [Pats center] Jordan Eberle and I went over to the World Juniors, we struggled and couldn’t find a way to get back on track,” Teubert explained.
“It was really disappointing,” Teubert lamented. “Any hockey player hates to hang up the skates that early but with that, I got the opportunity to come here. I’m excited and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
In the IIHF World (Under-20) Junior Hockey Championship, which was played December 26, 2008 – January 5, 2009 in Ottawa, Teubert was paired with likely future Kings teammate, defenseman Thomas Hickey of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
“It was probably one of the best moments of my life,” Teubert said about playing in the World Juniors and winning the gold medal for Canada. “It was awesome playing in front of that many fans and especially in Ottawa.”
Fast forward to the present…in two games with the Reign, Teubert has not been a disappointment and is adjusting to the ECHL game, even though the results have not been good so far.
“I was a little nervous in Las Vegas [on March 20],” said Teubert. “I didn’t really know what to expect and I hadn’t been on the ice in awhile with my team being eliminated a week beforehand. But tonight I felt good, a little solid.”
“It hasn’t been that good, we haven’t won either of them, so we’re looking for one tomorrow [against the Las Vegas Wranglers],” added Teubert. “It’s been a bit of a quick adjustment for me—I didn’t get a practice with the team. It’s been pretty good, though. It’s just exciting to keep playing. You’re playing with men out there. You just have to be ready at all times. They’re big guys out there. If I just play my game and keep it simple, it’ll help me out a lot.”
Speaking of keeping it simple, Teubert showed composure and maturity on the ice against Phoenix, a stark contrast from the raw, undisciplined defenseman who showed up for the Kings training camp back in September.
Indeed, that version of Colten Teubert ran around all over the ice, trying to hit anything and everything that moved, believing that was the way to make a big impression.
“I’ve got to stay simple,” he said. “Running around will get me in situations I don’t want to be in. I’m just trying to focus on being on the defensive side [of the puck] and when I do have a chance to make a hit I’ll make it count.”
“I’m more experienced, I have less pressure on myself with where I was drafted,” he elaborated. “I was trying to do too much [at the Kings training camp last September]. I’m just more composed and prepared.”
Teubert’s defensive partner with the Reign has also taken notice of his play.
“He’s a young kid but he’s playing well,” said Reign defenseman Chad Starling, who is in his eighth season in the ECHL. “He plays his position well. He talks a lot out there. He’s mature. He’s 19, but he plays like he’s a lot older.”
“He’s solid,” added Starling. “We haven’t even practiced together but I think we jelled a little bit last night [at Las Vegas]. Same thing tonight. We play well together. We just have to keep it simple. We’re not going to be rushing the puck up the ice, skating around five guys. We’re going to make the easy plays and smart passes, worry about our own zone, finish our hits, try to shut down the other team’s top line and go from there.”
But already, perhaps expectations for Teubert and his future are too high.
“He’s a great, hard-nosed defenseman,” said Rowat. “He’s got a really hard shot from the point. You could compare him to Chris Pronger. He’s a great teammate, a great leader. He’s going to be a great player.”
Anyone who has followed the NHL in recent years knows that Chris Pronger has been one of the top ten defensemen in the league for several years. He plays a rough, hard-hitting game, has a 16-inch deck gun for a point shot, is solid defensively and plays in all situations—even strength, power play and penalty-kill.
Comparing Teubert to Pronger is probably not very accurate. Just don’t try telling that to Rowat.
“I think he can live up to expectations,” Rowat said with confidence.
With that kind of praise, Teubert may have some huge skate boots to fill. Although nothing this reporter saw from Teubert in this game was reminiscent of Chris Pronger, it was just one game and with Rowat making the comparison, it does make you think…
For the Kings and their long-suffering, success-starved fans, one can only hope and dream.
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