Taylor Ward feeling ready for first NHL training camp with fast start at Rookie Faceoff

Since making the verdict to signal with the LA Kings ultimate spring, Taylor Ward has achieved the whole thing he can to familiarize himself with the group. As a loose agent popping out of faculty after spending 4 seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Ward selected to start his professional occupation with the Kings, agreeing to a one-year access stage deal on March 19.

Before placing pen to paper, the ahead spoke to many contributors of the entrance administrative center and was once confident he’d find a way to coach at the staff’s facility with the intention to proceed his construction. Ward knew he had quite a few onerous paintings forward of him to succeed in his dream of enjoying within the NHL like his father Dixon did for 10 seasons from 1992-02, showing in 537 video games, 34 of that have been with the Kings.

“I was on the phone a lot; I was doing a bunch of research and getting as much information as I could on what I wanted to do next and I had the opportunity to speak with pretty much everybody in this organization,” Ward mentioned days after signing his first professional deal. “I just loved what I heard from everyone and their emphasis on development so it just felt like the right fit and it’s a tough place to say no to so I didn’t.”

Ward joined the Ontario Reign within the AHL on an beginner tryout contract for the general 16 video games of the staff’s common season and in an instant was a contributor, scoring 10 issues (3-7=10) whilst enjoying in more than one roles all the way through the ahead lineup that incorporated time at the membership’s best trio along main scorers TJ Tynan and Martin Frk. He additionally gave the impression in 5 postseason contests for the Reign, including an help.

Now, simply days clear of opening his first-ever NHL training camp, Ward is appearing the Kings control and enthusiasts extra of what he can do at the 2022 Rookie Faceoff in San Jose by means of scoring objectives in either one of the staff’s first two video games all over the development.

“I was thrown in there at the end of last season and into the playoffs, which actually helped me become pretty comfortable with the guys pretty quickly last year,” Ward mentioned Sunday after a tradition for the rookie roster in preparation for the general day of video games on Monday.

Once the Reign’s playoff run got here to an finish, the 24-year-old took good thing about the chance he were promised and endured training in Southern California over the summer season at the Toyota Sports Performance Center, spending his time executing exercise plans from staff personnel and furthering relationships with his new teammates as an alternative of residing again house to Western Canada all over the offseason.

“To be able to spend the summer here with a handful of Kings guys that I got to really watch and learn from, it was really cool,” Ward mentioned. “And now to be able to see those guys at the rink every day and feel comfortable, I’m enjoying it. I feel like it’s made my first few days here at rookie camp a lot easier, rather than just coming in without knowing anybody so I’m glad I did it and it was a great experience.”

After beginning Friday’s opening recreation towards Colorado on the second one line, the Kelowna, B.C. local netted an influence play tally midway thru the second one duration to tie the sport at 2-2. He endured to turn self belief and was once later increased to the staff’s No. 1 line along two of the Kings’ best possibilities at the development, Quinton Byfield and Tyler Madden. Although LA surrendered a 3rd duration purpose and in the end got here up brief at the scoreboard, the road had more than one high quality possibilities, together with one who noticed Ward feed Byfield for an open one-timer within the remaining minute.

“I felt pretty good there in the first game,” Ward mentioned. “It was the first game of my season and moving up there playing with Q and Madds, I thought we played well and we were creating offense. Obviously that’s more fun than playing in the D zone so that’s what we like to do. The coaches expressed that they were happy with how I was playing so that’s always good to hear as well.”

24 hours later, Ward scored every other tying purpose to even the rating at 2-2 at nearly the similar time in the second one duration towards Vegas. The 2nd strike got here at even power along his linemates for the day, Francesco Pinelli and Brett Kemp. Ward discovered he had overtime and house within the offensive zone and despatched a puck towards Kemp at the entrance of the web, which glanced off a Vegas defender and into the purpose.

After the sport, Ontario Reign head trainer Marco Sturm, who’s operating the bench at this week’s rookie match, admitted he didn’t have a lot familiarity with Ward and the best way he performed coming in, however he’s now put himself at the radar for alternatives transferring ahead.

“I didn’t really know him, but I’m very pleased,” Sturm mentioned Saturday. “The way he plays, he reminds me of a few players I played with, so I think there’s something to it and he’s been really good, he’s a pleasant surprise. We’re going to try to keep pushing him to get more out of him, but so far, he’s had a really good tournament.”

The sure feeling is mutual for Ward, who mentioned he’s keen to be told from anyone like Sturm who has revel in being on an NHL bench as a participant and a trainer.

“He just brings such a presence and he’s a very smart man,” Ward mentioned of his first interactions with Sturm as his trainer. “Anytime he opens his mouth, I’m trying to learn as much as possible, listen, and then apply what he’s saying to my game. The first few days have been great so far and I think everybody in the room is a big fan of his so I’m excited to keep playing for him.”

The complete revel in of enjoying at a rookie match and being evaluated towards different younger gamers is totally new to Ward. Unlike others from his 1998 delivery yr who have been drafted at age 18 and can have more than one years of this beneath their belt, the 6-foot-2 attacker goes thru the whole thing for the first time.

“It’s been really fun so far,” Ward mentioned. “I’ve never been at a rookie camp or anything like it before so I’m having fun with it. It’s cool to see some of your buddies on the other teams and obviously getting out there and putting on a Kings uniform is something special no matter where or when you’re doing it.”

This is the kind of start Ward was once envisioning when he dedicated to spend the summer season in California. The exercises, each off and on the ice, that he went thru have him bodily ready, and the familiarity with the personnel and the power is permitting him to pay attention only on appearing his best possible as he competes for a place at the easiest stage.

“I didn’t want to come into my first main camp with no idea of what to expect and not knowing many people,” Ward mentioned. “So now to be able to come into camp and feel much more comfortable with the guys that are in the locker room and the coaching staff, training staff and everybody around, it’s definitely a big help for sure. I think I’d be much more nervous if I was back home the whole summer.”

Ward credit the staff’s training personnel for getting him ready and mentioned that whilst he did see similarities between their exercises and those he did in school, there have been some new issues to get used to as neatly.

“We’ve got some really smart guys up there in the gym in LA and the things we did were actually pretty interesting and very helpful,” Ward mentioned. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the last few months here and now I’m just hoping it translates onto the ice and I think it will.”

The subsequent step is proving that after he steps at the ice with the remainder of the Kings roster this week.

“Being at an NHL main camp is something that I’ve been dreaming about my whole life, so it’s a huge honor and I’m ready for it,” Ward mentioned. “I’m maybe a little bit nervous, but not too much. I’m excited. I feel good and I can’t wait for it to get going.”

Ward and the remainder of the Kings Rookie Faceoff roster will wrap up their three-game time table Monday afternoon after they cross up towards the San Jose Sharks learners at 3 p.m.

Leave a Comment