The LA Kings continued their Rookie Faceoff schedule Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Martin Chromiak had two goals in his first game of the weekend, Taylor Ward also scored, giving him two goals in two games, and Brandt Clarke added two assists, thus giving him four in the Faceoff, as well as the shootout winner mere minutes after being hit up high by a Vegas player which required a match penalty.
Brandt Clarke steals the show
After watching these last two games of Brandt Clarke playing hockey, one thing is for sure—the patience of LA Kings fans will be tested. With two highlight assists in the first game on Friday, Clarke followed it up with another two-assist performance. But it wasn’t till the end of regulation and eventual shootout when the young defenseman truly showed his magic.
As the buzzer to end regulation rang, Clarke took a rather cheap hit up high from Golden Knights player Carter Souch which forced him to lay on the ice for a minute or two to recover.
While fans held their collective breaths with concern for the charismatic defenseman, Clarke jumped up, skated to the bench, and would be right back on the ice to start overtime, displaying an immense amount of toughness.
When the LA Kings’ weren’t able to capitalize on the five-minute power play throughout overtime, a shootout ensued. After two David Hrenak saves and an impressive Akil Thomas goal, Brandt Clarke took the ice with a chance to win the game. And he didn’t miss the opportunity to impress once more.
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) September 17, 2022
For a player that’s had so much going against him off the ice, with mononucleosis holding him out of last year’s faceoff and NHL training camp, then the not once but twice surprising omissions from Canada’s WJC roster, Brandt Clarke just continues to excel anytime he’s on the ice.
Yet…the OHL still seems like the most logical destination for the LA Kings’ eighth overall pick this season.
Chromiak doesn’t miss a beat
It’s been a tough summer for Martin Chromiak. After missing out on playing for Slovakia in the summer WJC due to an undisclosed “virus,” Chromiak told us after Thursday’s practice he was held off the ice for a month and had lost a considerable amount of weight. Now that he’s 100%, he was ready to make an impact on ice and on the scoresheet once again.
With the LA Kings “rookies” down 4-2 to the Golden Knights in the third period, Chromiak stepped up with two goals on back-to-back shots to even the score. Both tallies showed his impressive ability to not only shoot the puck with high velocity but sneak it through multiple bodies and find the back of the net.
It’s good to see Martin come back from whatever he was dealing with and still be the excellent goal scorer that he showed while playing alongside Shane Wright in Kingston. I’m really looking forward to his first full year with the Ontario Reign in the AHL this coming season.
Quick player notes
Taylor Ward – He got his second goal of the Rookie Faceoff with a lucky bounce in front. He just keeps on producing and is starting to draw more fans’ attention.
Akil Thomas – I liked seeing the “A” on Akil’s sweater. His leadership qualities will be useful for a young Reign team without Brett Sutter or Martin Frk. He added an impressive shootout goal as well.
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) September 18, 2022
David Hrenak – I thought he was a little shaky. Better rebound control could’ve prevented the first goal and while most goals seemed to sneak through bodies, he did end with a good showing in the shootout.
Jordan Spence – It’s so fun to watch Spence play hockey. Amazing that he fell to the fourth round.
Bennett Rossmy – Some team is going to give this kid a chance. He’s a big body and plays big as well as produce offensively. He’ll be back in Berlin playing in the DEL this upcoming season.