10/09/2013 2:50 PM
Two Monarchs rookies made their professional debuts last Saturday against the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center. Defenseman Colin Miller and forward Nick Shore saw their first action in a Monarchs uniform over the weekend and it gave both fans and team personnel a glimpse of what both players hope will be a successful season. Both Miller and Shore signed three-year entry level contracts with the Los Angeles Kings during the off-season and look to develop their skills in Manchester while they work toward their ultimate goal of playing in the NHL.
Although it was only the first game of the 2013-14 regular season, Miller and Shore came away with a great learning experience and a few memorable moments from their debuts.
“I was a little nervous, it being the first game and my first pro game, but I was mostly excited”, said Miller. “I thought the game went alright, so we’ll just try to build off it now.”
“I felt good”, added Shore. “It helped having the rookie games and the couple exhibition games that we had, so that was a big help. For the majority, I think it went well. Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but it’s nice to get that first one done with.”
Miller is coming to the Monarchs after three years with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. Last season, Miller recorded career-highs in goals (20), assists (35), points (55), and plus/minus (13), in addition to leading the Greyhounds with six assists and seven points (1-6=7) during their 2013 playoffs. He was selected by the Kings in the fifth round (151st overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and signed his entry level contract with Los Angeles on July 29, 2013. Coming off his most successful season, Miller hopes that the accumulation of his past experience will help him continue to move forward and sharpen his skills while playing for the Monarchs.
“Obviously, guys are a lot better and a lot quicker at this level,” explained Miller following his debut. “They’re going to make you pay if you make a mistake, so that was something that was something I really had to be aware of.”
Shore is getting his first chance at the professional level after spending the last three seasons as a student and athlete at the University of Denver. He was selected by the Kings in the third round (82nd overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and signed his entry-level contract on April 13, 2013. Shore has been in a transitional period as he adjusts to life outside of the classroom, but certainly embraces the ability to focus on hockey and further developing his game.
“Coming from college, I think really the big difference is the lifestyle,” explained Shore. “Going from being in school all day and playing games on a Friday or Saturday to now having more games; the lifestyle is completely different. I think that’s been the biggest adjustment.”
With the Monarchs bringing in fresh, new talent, it helps having a few veterans on the team to help make the transition to the professional level a bit easier. Defenseman Andrew “Soupy” Campbell appears to be one of those veterans that the younger players benefit from having around the team.
“Soupy has been helping me out a lot with everything,” Miller said. “He’s been great and always giving me tips throughout practice, around the ice and all that, so he’s been a big help.”
Shore emphasized that having experienced players around was a big advantage heading into his first game.
“There was a lot of support throughout the room,” Shore explained. “Obviously, playing with (Brian) O’Neill and (Sean) Backman is a huge help having them on your wing, so they made it really easy for me. We have a great older group in the locker room. Really, any of (our veterans), if you ever had a question about something, they’re glad to answer it. So that’s a huge help.”
One of the more memorable moments of their debut for each rookie was getting through their first shift on the ice.
“I think getting ready for that first game, hopping out there on your first shift, is something that is going to stick with you,” said Shore. “That’s definitely a moment you’ll look back on and, although it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, it was a good experience.”
Miller, Shore and the rest of their teammates will look to get the team’s first win of the season against the Portland Pirates in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday night. The Monarchs will then continue their road trip with games against Providence and Bridgeport over the weekend.