ROOKIES FINAL: Ducks, 4 Kings 2  – Marco Sturm Comments

The LA Kings dropped the 2023 Rookie Faceoff finale 4-2 to the Ducks on Monday. 23-year-old goaltender Erik Portillo was given his first start in a Kings sweater while Andre Lee, Francesco Pinelli, Alex Laferriere and Angus Booth all returned to the lineup.

Anaheim opened the scoring through forward Ben King at 11:42 of the first period. Kings’ goalies faced a high volume of shots in the first periods of the Friday and Saturday games this weekend, but the sides combined for only 12 shots through the opening 20 minutes.

The Kings tied the game on the man advantage 6:39 into the second period. Aatu Jamsen slipped a puck through the slot to find invitee forward Sean Tschigerl, who flicked the puck into the net in the dying seconds of the power play. Tschigerl was originally drafted by the Ducks in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and played for Anaheim at the last two Rookie Faceoffs in San Jose and Arizona.

The Ducks answered less than three minutes later on a goal from 2023 second overall pick Leo Carlsson, and Yegor Sidorov scored immediately after to make it 3-1 Anaheim.

The Kings opened the third period on a five-on-three power play but were unable to score despite multiple grade-A chances. Ducks defenseman Rodwin Dionicio fired a puck past Portillo several minutes later to make it 4-1.

LA eventually broke through with its second power play goal midway through the final frame when Alex Laferriere collected a loose puck and directed it into the Ducks net. It first appeared that Andre Lee had corralled the puck and fired it into the net, but Laferriere was credited with his second goal of the showcase.

The Kings created multiple chances with the goaltender pulled in the final minutes but couldn’t complete a late comeback, ultimately falling to the Ducks in the faceoff’s final contest.

Hear from head coach Marco Sturm following Monday’s game.

Marco Sturm
On Erik Portillo’s first start
I liked his intensity. He was into it today. Every time he came to the bench he was all fired up. I think he did a lot of good things today. A few of the goals may have been a little bit questionable and there will be things we have to correct, but overall I thought it was a good first start for him.

On the impact made by some of the Reign players in the lineup
I think our Reign players and draft picks were overall our better players. For me, that’s always nice to see. There were a lot of good things in Andre Lee’s game. Francesco Pinelli was really good, and so was Alex Laferriere and Martin Chromiak. I thought those four guys really stood out this week.

On this year’s showcase compared to last year
I think last year was totally different. Last year we had some really high draft picks in the lineup. With the Kings going to Australia there were a lot of things happening this summer. This year we had a lot of invitees and new kids that we haven’t had in the past. I appreciate the effort the guys gave, especially the new kids and the invites because it was not easy for them.

With rookie camp coming to an end, Kings training camp and the NHL Preseason can begin.

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