ROOKIES FINAL: Sharks 4, Kings 3 (SO) – Takeaways + Ingham, Lee, Sturm

The LA Kings fell to the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a shootout Friday in Las Vegas to open the 2023 Rookie Faceoff. The Kings struck twice in the second period but were forced to score late to send the game beyond regulation.

Goaltender Jacob Ingham, who missed all of last season due to back surgery, earned the start for the Kings and was tested early. The Sharks continued to get pucks to the Kings’ net but Ingham turned away all 17 shots he faced in the opening period.

The Kings came up empty on an early 5-on-3 power play opportunity but were stout on the kill themselves, denying the Sharks on two power play chances.

The penalty killing prowess continued into the second period as Francesco Pinelli connected with Andre Lee for a shorthanded goal. Lee, who wore the ‘C’ for today’s game, slipped to the front of the net and roofed a backhander past Sharks goaltender Georgi Romanov.

Ingham remained terrific in net for the Kings, and while playing in his first game in a year, stopped all 26 shots he saw. He was relieved by rookie Erik Portillo after 31 shutout minutes.

San Jose evened the score six minutes later on a goal from Tristin Robins, but the game remained tied for just 49 seconds. Martin Chromiak found invitee defenseman Chase Pauls all alone in front of the Sharks net and threaded a pass through the defense to Pauls who backhanded the puck past the goaltender.

San Jose came out firing early in the third period, beating Portillo twice on goals from Bradley Marek and Gannon Laroque. After falling behind for the first time, the Kings picked up the tempo and outshot the Sharks 22-9 in the final frame. Alex Laferriere finally cashed in for the Kings with 1:16 remaining in the game. He entered the zone down the left wing, held up at the circle, and fired a deceptive wrist shot that fooled the goalie and tied the game.

Both teams killed penalties in overtime to send the game to a shootout. Laferriere and Koehn Ziemmer were unable to convert their chances, while Robins and William Eklund scored to secure the victory for San Jose. Second-round selections Pinelli and Jakub Dvorak each finished the game with two assists.

3 Takeaways

1. Jacob Ingham came to play. The 2018 sixth-round draft pick has participated in the last four rookie showcases for the Kings and had a lot riding on his performance today. It’s been a long year for the 23-year-old, who suffered a bad injury a year ago and was forced to miss all of last season after receiving back surgery. Now on an AHL contract for the upcoming season, he returned for his fifth Rookie Faceoff and earned the start in Game 1. He stopped all 26 shots he faced today and looked calm and composed while doing it, even on the saves where he had to sprawl in front of the net to deny a good scoring opportunity. He wrote “something to prove” on his mask for this season and certainly proved his competitiveness today.

2. Alex Laferriere can fly. He was all over the ice today. Powerplay? Check. Penalty kill? Check. Forecheck and backcheck? Check, check. His impressive performance was rewarded with a shorthanded assist in the second period and the game-tying goal in the final minutes of the game. He dazzled in his cameo with the Ontario Reign last spring and deservedly started on the Kings top line today with Lee and Pinelli.

3. The Kings were eager to pick up the physicality. Sometimes teams take a little while to get physical in exhibition showcases like the Rookie Faceoff, but the Kings didn’t shy away from it today. Kings’ draft picks Kaleb Lawrence and Samuel Helenius eagerly threw themselves around early in the game. Helenius even dropped the gloves in the second period, something we saw him do multiple times last season with AHL Ontario. Invitee defenseman Samuel Mayer, who accumulated 72 penalty minutes in the Ontario Hockey League last season, also didn’t shy away from checks. It’s something to keep an eye on as the weekend’s slate of games continue.

Hear from Jacob Ingham, Andre Lee and head coach Marco Sturm following today’s shootout loss:

Jacob Ingham
On returning to action after missing last season
It was really nice. I’ve done the whole loop. I think my first [Rookie Faceoff] was here in Vegas and I played pretty bad, so it’s a little bit of a revenge tour. It was a long year with lots of rehab and 7am sessions working with my physical therapist. There was a lot of work behind the scenes to get me back to playing. My last game would have been against San Jose a year ago, so I’m over the moon and really happy. I’m a little emotional right now just thinking about all those long days and hours and just not knowing how I’d feel coming back off a major surgery like that. To get the opportunity to start and play how I know I can is good.

On his mentality entering the Rookie Faceoff
I definitely have something to prove. I wrote that on my mask this year. I’ve got goals and I’ve written them down. Being on an AHL deal is a little bit different coming off my entry level and not getting qualified, but I’ve got a really good opportunity in the LA system. I’m really happy that I got offered to sign back here and get the chance to prove myself after a year of rehab.

On how many shots it took to feel comfortable
One. I felt it right away. I felt locked in and credit to [San Jose], they peppered us pretty hard right away and as a goalie, you like that. When you start feeling good and start feeling yourself out there, you just want it to keep coming and coming. I feel like I probably had a game’s worth of shots in only a period and a half.

Andre Lee
On captaining the Kings today
It was fun. I learned a lot from last year and its my second time being at rookie camp, so I think I took on the role pretty well. I’ve always liked the captain role and being the leader, so it was really fun. As an older guy whose been around for a little bit, you have to take responsibility and lead the younger guys.

On his opening goal
I was actually really tired from the penalty kill but I saw Frankie [Pinelli] busting up the wing, so I just tried to bear down and skate with him. He made a great play. Then it was just me and the goalie and I’m pretty strong with my backhand. It was nice to see it went in.

On playing with Pinelli and Laferriere
It was very fun. They’re great players, both very technical, and they can score as well. You can see that Laferriere has a great shot too. I think for me, it was just sticking to my game like how I ended last season. I think this is a great start for what’s coming, so for me it was about sticking to my game and doing what I do best.

Marco Sturm
On the Reign players who appeared in today’s game
I was very happy with their effort. Overall, I think as a team, that’s all we’re asking for. I know those guys and I thought they were our best players, especially the top like of Pinelli, Lee and Laferriere. I thought they got better and better too. The games goes on and they scored a big goal for us at the end too. They were really good off the ice in the locker room and on the bench. They showed their leadership and it was a good time.

On Jacob Ingham’s performance
I’m really happy for him. The whole team was really happy about his game tonight. It’s not easy [for him]. I saw him every day last season in the locker room. It was a grind for him. You only wish the best for him, and for him to come out like this today, its exciting. He was great.

On Erik Portillo’s first action in a Kings sweater
I thought it was tough [coming in] after Ingham and then facing a lot of shots. They still had a lot of shots in the second period. It was his first game and I think we just have to give him time and support him. He’s a really good goalie and we’ve got really good coaches.

The Kings are back in action Saturday at 3:30 against the Arizona Coyotes. You can watch the game live on

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