Alexander: Keoni Texeira tries his luck in ‘Vegas
EL SEGUNDO — There were moments, as Keoni Texeira skated a regular defensive shift for the Vegas Golden Knights rookies against their Kings counterparts this week, that he could have marveled at how far he’d come.
Texeira, who grew up in Fontana and is still an offseason resident of the Inland Empire, followed the typical rink rat existence of the Southern California hockey player during early adolescence, commuting long distances to find suitable competition.
It got him to major junior hockey, with the Portland (Ore.) Winterhawks. And it has gotten him to the threshold of his professional hockey dream.
Texeira was invited to the Knights’ mid-summer development camp and then to the team’s rookie camp, and he learned this week he would be part of the Knights’ main camp, which begins on-ice work Friday in Las Vegas.
It is a land of opportunity for everyone in camp, on an expansion team with a blank slate and few preconceived notions about who fits where. While anything is possible, Texeira — who turned 20 in March — most likely is competing for an AHL roster spot with the Chicago Wolves, the Knights’ main affiliate, or an ECHL slot at Quad City.
The other alternative? Returning to Portland for a fifth season as one of the Winterhawks’ overage players. Texeira had 12 goals and 45 points last season in the Western Hockey League and was a plus-1 in 72 regular-season games. He added an assist in 11 playoff games.
A win-win situation, right?
“Of course, (a contract) is what I would like,” Texeira said. “But it’s not up to me. I have to work my hardest and show these guys every day why I think I should be playing at the next level.
“You have to earn it. It’s not given to you.”
The roots of this opportunity were probably planted […]