Weekend Rewind: Mersch setting pace, PK human - LA Kings Insider

The Reign picked up the all-important four points in their two-game road trip to Texas over the weekend, defeating the San Antonio Rampage 4-3 in overtime on Friday, followed by a 7-6 thriller on Saturday against the Texas Stars.

Following the AHL weekend slate, the Reign (10-2-2-0) are first in the Pacific Division, and first in the Western Conference with a winning percentage of .786.

Highlights from San Antonio:

Highlights from Texas:

The Michael Mersch Meter
Michael Mersch had three goals on the weekend, extending his team goal-scoring lead to nine as he continues to be the measuring stick on the Reign as to which forward looks most NHL-ready.

The left winger’s net-front presence is certainly something to keep an eye on. Two out of his three in Texas were right on the doorstep, the most emphatic being the diving OT winner where he jumped on a rebound.

For the record, Adrian Kempe and an unlikely candidate in Jordan Samuels-Thomas are second in goals with five apiece.

Circle that
Center Nic Dowd has officially emerged as the go-to faceoff guy in the clinch.

Dowd’s clean overtime faceoff win in the Rampage zone set up Vincent LoVerde’s drive off the boards that resulted in Mersch’s winner and again against Texas, Dowd won a crucial endzone faceoff with 4.9 seconds left to ice the game.

Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, this is a great Q&A that Sheng Peng of SB Nation’s Jewels from the Crown did with Dowd recently.

Penalty kill is human
The one thing we did learn over the weekend is that the Reign penalty kill has a human side to it. Ontario gave up four power play goals in the two games, which was more than their first 12 games combined where they allowed just three.

Certainly it doesn’t help that they had issues staying out of the box: eight penalties vs San Antonio and nine vs Texas. Of those 17 total penalties, 13 resulted in power play opportunities for the opposition due to a few sets of coincidental minors.

Still, the Reign are right up there when it comes to PK percentage at 89.7, good for third in the AHL.

What the future holds
After giving up six goals in Saturday’s win, head coach Mike Stothers said the team looked like it needed a few practices to button things up a bit, but did reinforce that there was no overall concern.

They’ll next play host to the Stockton Heat (the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

The Reign own the edge on the Heat this season, a 4-0 road win on Nov. 7.

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Kevin Gravel

#4 | 6′ 4″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 2/17/1996
Birthplace: KINGSFORD, MI
Position: D


Gravel made his NHL debut with Los Angeles in the 2015-16 season, skating with the Kings for four games before returning to AHL affiliate Ontario.

Rob Scuderi

#0 | 6′ 1″ | 212 lb | Age: 37

Born: DOB: 12/30/1978
Birthplace: SYOSSET, NY
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Scuderi is currently playing for the Reign while under contract with the LA Kings. He has won two Stanley Cups, once with the Pittsburgh Penguins and with the Kings.

Michael Mersch

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 225 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 10/2/1992
Birthplace: PARK RIDGE, IL
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Drafted by the Kings in 2011, Mersch is currently playing forward for the Reign. Last season, he drew into his first NHL game for the Kings, where he registered 2 shots and 3 hits.

Michael Latta

#24 | 6′ 0″ | 207 lb | Age: 25

Born: 5/25/1991
Birthplace: KITCHENER, ON
Position: F
Handedness: Right


Prior to turning professional, Latta played major junior hockey in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and Guelph Storm. He was drafted into the NHL in 2009 and joined the King’s affiliate Reign in 2016.

Adrian Kempe

#09 | 6′ 1″ | 187 lb | Age: 20

Born: 9/13/1996
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Growing up in Swedan, Kempe made his hockey debut in 2014 in the Swedish Hockey League. He has since been drafted by the Kings, where he is playing for their AHL affiliate team, the Ontario Reign.

Brett Sutter

#07 | 6′ 0″ | 192 lb | Age: 29

Born: 6/2/1987
Birthplace: CALGARY, AB
Position: C


Drafted in 2005 by the Calgary Flames, Sutter was traded to the Reign in 2016. He is the son of LA Kings head couch Darryl Sutter, and the eighth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL.