Linden Rowat finished his Western Hockey League season Saturday, grabbed a plane and touched down in Ontario at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, and four hours later was wearing a Reign jersey for the first time.
“I went straight to the hotel, unpacked, tried to get some shut-eye before the game,” the 19-year-old goaltender said after Thursday’s optional practice at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Kings’ fifth-round draft pick from 2007, Rowat also passed his first test on the hot seat after practice:
On his opportunity with the Reign:
“I’m really excited about it. It’s a higher level of play from the Western Hockey League and it gives me a chance to show that I can play at this level and earn a contract with the L.A. Kings.”
Any nerves making the leap to the ECHL?
Of course I’m nervous, but just take it like any other game, make sure I’m mentally prepared and I’m sure with the solid defense that the Reign are known for, that we can play some good hockey.
Familiar with any of your new teammates?
I know Bud Holloway from L.A. Kings camp. Colten Teubert, who will be here tomorrow, I played with him for three years in Regina. I played with Tim Kraus last year in Regina when he was a 20-year-old. It’s always good to know a few people before you come into a situation like this.
What do you know about the Reign?
From what I’ve been told, they’re a tight-knit defensive team. They rely heavily on that. (Jeff Zatkoff) has played well for them this year — he’s got a lot of wins for them. I’m pretty much stepping into a new situation. I don’t know a lot about them.
On his season with the WHL’s Regina Pats:
It was really up and down. Before Christmas we had 18 wins and 10 losses. Then once we lost Teubert and (Jordan) Eberle to World Juniors, we went on a losing streak. We never recovered throughout the whole season and even when they got back, we weren’t able to. I would have liked to have been able to get us back on track, but we had a terrible end to the year; only eight wins in the new year. It’s not the way I wanted to end my 19-year-old season.
On his goaltending style:
Butterfly goalie. The things I’ve been learning lately from Bill Ranford of the Kings organization is to be more patient on my feet, react to pucks more than blocking them. That’s basically it.
On his goals for his time with the Reign:
Hopefully I win the games I start. I know it’ll be tough, stepping into a different level of play, but I feel like I’m capable of it. I just want to learn as much as I can from the guys here, be a professional. It’s going to be a different lifestyle here, living in hotels and apartments, taking care of yourself. It’s a huge learning experience. I’m just going to absorb everything I can from everybody. … Some guys are married and have kids. It’s a different age group from 16 to 20 year olds. But yeah, it’s great. It seems like there’s a lot of leaders, a lot of guys who speak up in the dressing room.
Do you think you can make the leap to the ECHL or AHL next year?
I think definitely I can play in the East Coast League next year. It’s just that I’ve got to work really hard while I’m here, make sure I have a really good summer — get stronger and quicker — and come here, come to the camp to battle for a spot.
On Colten Teubert:
He’s a stay at home defenseman for the most part. He’s a real hard-nosed guy. He’s a tough player, hits you hard, battles hard, and not scared to drop the gloves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose a fight.