Frozen Royalty: Kyle Clifford Working To Be More Than A Tough Guy
Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty continues his series of summer interviews with soon-to-be fan favorite Kyle Clifford. Many expect Clifford to make the team and be tough. But is there more there than just a tough guy?
EL SEGUNDO, CA — When the Los Angeles Kings selected left wing Kyle Clifford in the second round (35th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft, it was because he was able to contribute offensively as well as play a tough, physical game and drop the gloves when needed.
The 6-2, 208-pound native of Ayr, Ontario scored just one goal with 14 assists for 15 points in 66 games in the 2007-08 season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (his first season in the OHL) while racking up 83 penalty minutes.
Clifford improved in a big way after that, scoring 16 goals and adding twelve assists for 28 points with 133 penalty minutes in sixty games in 2008-09, and topping that in 2009-10 with 28 goals and 29 assists for 57 points with 111 penalty minutes.
Clifford’s play with the Colts last season earned him a call-up to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (Kings’ primary minor league affiliate) on an amateur tryout agreement for the AHL playoffs once the Colts’ season was over. But, as Clifford discovered, having a bit of a scoring touch in Canadian junior hockey does not necessarily translate to higher levels.
Indeed, Clifford failed to score in seven playoff games, although he did record two assists with twelve penalty minutes and even spent some time on the Monarchs’ top line with Kings’ forward prospects Andrei Loktionov and Justin Azevedo.
“I was able to play with a couple of skilled guys like that,” said Clifford. “I just stuck to my game, mixed it up a little bit, threw some checks and tried to make a little bit of room for them.”
Despite his efforts, the Monarchs were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals by the eventual Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears.
“You have to fight for every inch, especially at that high level, Clifford stressed. “It was a great group of guys. We really showed well the whole playoff run there—we were the underdogs for most of it. I felt like we put in a great effort against the Hershey Bears. It was a little disappointing, the way it ended, but I thought we really pulled through.”
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