Alexander: Brodzinski back in Ontario to refine his game
ONTARIO — The Ontario Reign’s players and coaches didn’t expect their old teammate back so soon. And neither he nor they are where they ultimately want to be.
Jonny Brodzinski got a nice, loud round of applause during player introductions before the Reign’s home opener Friday night, an eventual 2-0 loss to Bakersfield. The team was coming off an 0-3 road trip, and Brodzinski, Ontario’s leading goal scorer last year with 27 in 59 games, was back in the Inland Empire after being sent down by the Kings earlier in the week, following three scoreless games with the big club.
Brodzinski was coming just as Justin Auger was going. The 6-foot-7 winger was called up from Ontario to L.A. the same day Brodzinski was sent down, and didn’t embarrass himself in his first NHL game Wednesday night against Montreal.
“Good for Augs,” coach Mike Stothers said. “He’s come a long way. He’s a big body that can move. He’s elusive for a big guy. He’s got some nice hands. He’s put in the time, put in the work, over 200 AHL games. He deserves it.”
Meanwhile, Brodzinski, a 24-year-old right wing from Ham Lake, Minn., ran into a problem that is not uncommon among players moving up a level. When you play fewer minutes, you have to make every shift count.
And sometimes that takes some getting used to.
“It’s easier to get into the game when you’re playing 13 or 14, or 20, minutes,” he said after Friday’s morning skate. “You get a lot more touches of the puck. But it’s just something you’ve got to deal with. When you get out there you’ve got to be ready every shift.”
That, Stothers said, is the dilemma a lot of the Reign’s younger players have faced in their first exposure to professional hockey. Not only is the […]