Deep sea blue threads versus crisp white jerseys:
It wasn’t exactly 17,100 strong at the pristine, renovated Climate Pledge Arena. Instead, a seemingly capacity crowd inside the pristine, new Kraken Community Iceplex observed another first in Seattle Kraken history:
The first training camp scrimmage in real game jerseys, showcased to the world two months ago on national television. They were filled by many familiar names from the summer’s expansion draft, free agency, and hopefuls to make the final roster of 23 players for Opening Night, Oct. 12 against the host Vegas Golden Knights.
While the final score of NHL training camp scrimmages tend to be inconsequential (by the way, Team White took a 5-1 victory over Team Blue), the platter of elevated competition still delivered a potential glimpse of “what can you do” moments for the historic first NHL season in the Puget Sound.
- Joonas Donskoi – likely to play a significant role with his experience in San Jose and Colorado – stole the show in the first half of the scrimmage (covering two halves rather than the typical three-period format you’ll see for pre-season, regular season, and playoffs), with a hat trick and an additional goal staged in a “between halves” shootout.
- How Donskoi scored – the first one of scrimmage time was pretty, for being so close to the net. He took a Morgan Geekie pass that still traveling, mid-air, and batted the puck into the net at the left post. Hitting a projectile in that motion with a stick is not easy. He also delivered a snapshot, buried into the net toward the end of the first half, then in the second half stole Dennis Cholowski’s pass up the middle of the ice (veterans like that will sniff them out) and pumped another snap shot to the back of the net.
- Ryan Donato – does he have skill? Watch his shootout goal, and that should answer your question. He took approximately seven backhand-to-forehand dekes after reaching the faceoff circle hashmarks, to enormously open the glove side on Chris Driedger.
- Cale Fleury – boosted Team White’s lead to 2-0 on an exquisite snap shot, glancing off the crossbar and into the net (“bar down,” as they throw the lingo around in this business).
- Marcus Johansson – delivered the sole goal of the day for Team Blue, a snap shot inside of the right circle, over the glove of Joey Daccord.
- Yanni Gourde – suited up, though did not play in the scrimmage by way of wearing the red-colored, “non-contact” jersey. However, he took a rep in the between-halves shootout, missing glove side on Philipp Grubauer.
- Grubauer – what about him, you say? He didn’t allow a single goal in the scrimmage, and didn’t allow a single goal in the shootout.
- Another ovation: when the final horn sounded, the Kraken collectively hoisted their sticks toward the rafters,prompting a roar of applause and standing ovation from the fans outside the glass.
- Alexander Wennberg – did not play for what head coach Dave Hakstol said was a “personal day.”
- Do we know yet who’s playing tomorrow in Spokane? Not yet. More below, and we’ll know latest by Sunday morning when two teams will skate at KCI, the first group represented as players who will suit up then travel by air to Spokane for the 6pm puck drop.
TEAM BLUE LINES
Johansson – Jarnkrok – Appleton
Tanev - Sheahan – Bastian
Twarynski - True - Melanson
Lohin - MacKay
(Gourde – suited up, did not play in scrimmage)
Dunn – Larsson
Cholowski – Carrick
H. Fleury – Soucy
Driedger – 1st half
Bibeau – 2nd half
TEAM WHITE LINES
Schwartz - McCann - Eberle
Geekie - Donato - Donskoi
Wilson – Kartye – Lind
Gates / Henman
Giordano - Oleksiak
Lauzon - Borgen
Olofsson - C. Fleury
Grubauer – 1st half
Daccord – 2nd half
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODIUM:
Forward Brandon Tanev on the energy from his teammates and the crowd inside KCI:
“It’s been great so far. We’ve seen it thus far with the jersey sales, the amount of fans we’ve had at our training camp and our first scrimmage, I think the group of guys, the organization, everyone is super excited to get this thing going in Seattle.”
Tanev on the pace of scrimmage:
"High pace. Coach (Dave Hakstol) has done a great job of putting us together and working as a team. That’s the goal of training camp especially for a new group coming together, an expansion team – to get together, build confidence, chemistry, and feel each other out. We’re going to be working really hard, and that’s the name of the game. We have our first exhibition game tomorrow and we’re super excited for it.”
Forward Morgan Geekie, Tri-City Americans (WHL) alumnus, on the familiarity of playing against the Spokane Chiefs at Spokane Arena:
“Just the fans. The New Year’s Eve game was awesome. They’re crazy there but it’s nice to have them on our side. Normally I (wasn’t) on the nice end of things. But it’ll be good to switch it up.”
Geekie on what’s worked so well with his line mates, Joonas Donskoi and Ryan Donato:
“Obviously it was our first game together but I love that we’ve practiced together and we have some good chemistry. We just went out there, we play similar games, so were feeding off each other and just trying to find spots to get open. Don’t read into it too much. But it’s fun playing with those guys.”
Forward Joonas Donskoi, on the effectiveness of his line mates:
“It’s been fun. I knew Donato a little bit in San Jose and I’ve watched him and known him as a skillful guy. Geekie, I didn’t know too well but seems like a super skilled guy and he can rip it. He can score goals.”
Head Coach Dave Hakstol, on what group will be playing and an update on Alexander Wennberg:
“First, ‘Wennie’ just had a personal day today, in terms of the lineup tomorrow – we still probably need another couple hours. Coming out of today we just want to make sure everybody’s health is good, and we’ll set the roster.”
Hakstol on defining the development of on-ice chemistry:
“Guys who look like they fit together. Morgan Geekie and his line mates (Donskoi and Donato), they’ve had a couple good practices and things went well in today’s scrimmages. Little things like that are good to see. We got bits and pieces of the (defensive) pairs that are reading well off one another, those are important things, early on.”
Hakstol on the purpose of the combination of players on their respective lines, today:
“Those were our practice groups and we wanted to have some good veterans in each group. As we look at leadership and execution through practices, we tweaked the groups with one or two players yesterday, but didn’t want to make too many changes going into today’s scrimmage. I felt we had some good veterans on each group, we had seen some good chemistry coming together through the first two practices, so we wanted to leave those together for the short scrimmage today.”
Hakstol on Donskoi playing an active game in the offensive and defensive zone:
“He can do that not only at five on five, but he also has a similar element on special teams (power play and penalty kill). He’s been part of a very good power play (with the Colorado Avalanche). He’s been a good penalty killer. He’s an all-around, intelligent player, and you’ve seen the chemistry he’s built with his line mates – as a veteran, credit to him. He’s done a good job going out, and playing the right way, not trying to force anything.”
Countdown to pre-season face-off: 1 day
Sept. 26: Seattle Kraken vs. Vancouver Canucks, Spokane Arena, face-off at 6pm (950 AM KJR).