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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LA Kings D Prospect Zach Leslie Remains Positive While Biding Time With Ontario Reign

LA Kings defenseman prospect Zach Leslie (center, wearing number 8), shown here during a game with the
American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — If you’ve never heard of defenseman Zach Leslie, unless you’re a fan of the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, no one would blame you.

The 21-year-old native of Ottawa, Ontario, who was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft, is now playing for the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Ontario Reign.

Actually, playing might be a bit of an exaggeration, because as a first-year pro, Leslie has been mostly on the outside looking in, so to speak, with the Reign this season, having played in just five games, contributing two assists, with a +1 plus/minus rating.

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Ontario Reign Coach Mike Stothers on LA Kings LW Prospect Adrian Kempe: “He’s Ahead of the Curve”

LA Kings left wing prospect Adrian Kempe, shown here during a game
with the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — With left wing prospect Michael Mersch having been called up to the Los Angeles Kings for fill-in duty with veteran left wing Kyle Clifford out of the lineup due to an upper body injury, for the time being, Adrian Kempe is now the top left wing prospect playing for the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Ontario Reign.

Kempe, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) of the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, burst onto the scene last season, when he was a late-season addition to the Manchester Monarchs, a team he helped lead to the AHL’s 2015 Calder Cup Championship.

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