LA Kings, San Jose Sharks Minor League Teams Square Off In Playoffs, Too

Ontario Reign goaltender Peter Budaj
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — As their parent teams finalize a series in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the American Hockey League affiliates of the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks begin their best-of-five game series on Friday afternoon in San Jose.

At season‘s beginning, the Pacific Division was a new standard for the AHL. Now it gets one of California‘s top rivalries between two of the premier California organizations, as the Ontario Reign and San Jose Barracuda will keep the organizational on-ice rivalry fresh as they square off for a best-of-five game set in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs pitting Southern California vs. Northern California, just like the Kings and Sharks.

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LA Kings RW Prospect Scott Sabourin Is Falling Short of Expectations

Los Angeles Kings right wing prospect Scott Sabourin, shown here playing for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography”

ONTARIO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — Back in the late summer of 2013, a big, burly right wing came out of nowhere to turn heads during the Los Angeles Kings’ rookie camp and rookie tournament. In fact, in a rookie game against the then-Phoenix Coyotes, this player, not known for skating, speed or skill, took a breakout pass in stride, split two Coyotes defenders at the far blue line and went in on a breakaway. He didn’t score—his wrist shot barely missed the top left corner of the net. Nevertheless, he left just about everyone in attendance with jaws agape.

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LA Kings Prospect Watch: Forward Jonny Brodzinski

Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jonny Brodzinski, shown
here playing for their American Hockey League
affiliate, the Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography”]

ONTARIO, CA — Although he is not expected to don a Los Angeles Kings jersey anytime soon, the Kings just might be developing a sniper in their farm system.

Ontario Reign right wing Jonny Brodzinski (he can also play at center), who was selected by the Kings in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft, played three seasons for St. Cloud State University, where he scored more than 20 goals each year, and was nearly a point-per-game player in his last two seasons.

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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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