ONTARIO, CA — Los Angeles Kings left wing prospect Michael Mersch scored two goals to lead the Ontario Reign to a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Gulls in Game 1 of their second round American Hockey League playoff series at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on May 5.
Mersch opened the scoring at 10:26 of the first period, batting the puck past Gulls goalie Matt Hackett from the bottom of the left circle.
Reign defenseman Vincent LoVerde scored on the power play at 14:37 of the first period, converting a back door play off a pass from Kings center prospect Nic Dowd, who was behind the left goal post.
Ontario dominated the first period, but San Diego turned the tables on the Reign in the second, dominating that period as much as Ontario did the first.
The Gulls scored twice early in the second period, within a span of just 2:26, and they continued to dominate. But Kings left wing prospect Joel Lowry scored at the 14:37 mark, to give the Reign a 3-2 lead.
Ontario found its game again in the third period, clamping down on defense. Mersch scored his second goal of the game, the game-winner, at 9:11, deflecting a shot from right point over Hackett and into the net.
“Those were Big Mike type goals,” said Reign head coach Mike Stothers. “He’s parked right in front of the net and he gets a deflection, a tip, he’s got a screen, a net front presence.”
“That’s what Big Mike does,” added Stothers. “It was good for him. He’s been contributing in a lot of ways, but he hasn’t found the back of the net.”
As Stothers alluded to, prior to this game, Mersch had not scored a goal in four playoff games this season. But as it turned out, Mersch’s paternal grandfather knew exactly what to do.
“It’s funny,” said Mersch. “My Grandpa Mersch calls me every Tuesday. He asked me why I wasn’t going to the net as much in the first series [against the San Jose Barracuda]. He was like, ‘did the coach tell you to do that,’ and I was like, ‘no. I should probably go to the net a little bit more.’”
“If my Grandpa is telling me, I probably should do it,” added Mersch. “He watches all of our games and supports our team a lot. That’s really nice of him.”
“Maybe [I was trying] to do too much. Maybe I was [spending too much time in] the gray areas of the ice, which is anywhere besides the front of the net. You make a pass from the corner, cycle, and then, go to the front of the net—forecheck, puck goes back to the defense, you go to the front of the net. It’s stuff like that. Like I said, maybe I was trying to do too much.”
Mersch said that he talks with his grandfather weekly.
“He checks in with me every Tuesday,” Mersch noted. “I think he does it with all my cousins. Sometimes we talk about hockey. Other times, we talk about family. It’s just great talking to him.”
“He’s always come to my games since I was young,” Mersch added. “He loves the game. He watches my brother play on his computer, he watches me play on his computer. It’s great when you have support like that. My other Grandpa is in town today, too. Having that support there is a big thing.”
When told of Mersch’s grandfather’s comments, Stothers smiled.
“His grandfather told him that? Well, let’s fly him in,” he joked. “Put him on the staff! Perfect! Get him a track suit and he can go on the ice tomorrow for practice, and I’ll stay off. Sounds like a plan!”
“He probably skates better than I do, anyway.”
Frozen Royalty’s Michael Mersch Coverage
- Will Speed, Skating Continue to Block Michael Mersch’s Rise To The NHL
- LA Kings LW Michael Mersch Talks About Move Up To The NHL, First NHL Goal
- Only A Matter Of Time Now Before LA Kings LW Prospect Michael Mersch Bursts Onto NHL Scene
- LA Kings LW Prospect Michael Mersch Is Powering His Way Towards The NHL
- LA Kings Have A Power Forward In The Making In Michael Mersch
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.