Reign Practice Quotes: Kurtis MacDermid, Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Mike Stothers, Jonny Brodzinski & Michael Mersch

MacDermid deals with San Diego's ire, Samuels-Thomas gets deeper about penalty killing/dump-ins, Stothers learns how good Ontario is on 3+ days rest & Brodzinski talks playing Michael in postseason

Kurtis MacDermid

Jewels from the Crown: When you were drafted as a 5'10" 149-pounder in the 7th round of the 2010 OHL Draft, did you have the same hard-nosed style of game as you do now?

Kurtis MacDermid: Yeah, I'd say so. It just runs in the family, so I always had that edge. I knew I was going to have to work hard if I was going to get up every level. So that's just what I did.

JFTC: From Erie to now, your game has grown a ton. Which improvement are you most proud of?

KM: Not just one thing. Every part of my game, I've been working hard at it, every day. It's just good to see improvements in your game. I just want to keep getting better everyday.

JFTC: Where would you say the MacDermid family gets their work ethic from?

KM: Just grew up with it. My brother was the same way and so was my Dad. My Mom and my sister. Just runs in the family and something I'm used to.

JFTC: Were your mom and sister players too?

KM: Nope. Athletic family, that's all.

JFTC: Speaking of now, you've been something of a target for San Diego players and fans this season. How do you tune this outside noise out?

KM: It's not that hard. I'm just playing my game. Obviously, people aren't going to like me. That's just the way it is.

JFTC: Your Dad was a tough customer himself when he played. What has your Dad's advice been in terms of dealing with this outside noise?

KM: It hasn't really bothered me too much. He just says, "Keep playing your game." And stuff like that. If the other team doesn't like you, it means you're doing something right. I just want to keep that going.

JFTC: Last season, you had a tough situation with Max Domi and the London Knights. How has the experience there helped you deal with the sort of target you have on your back this series?

KM: I'll have to make sure I don't cross the line. Obviously, know that the refs are going to be keeping a closer eye on me.

Jordan Samuels-Thomas

JFTC: You've flourished this season as a penalty killer. Have you always been a big PK'er for your teams?

Jordan Samuels-Thomas: Not until I turned pro. Before I turned pro last year, I never killed a penalty in my life. Last year, I got the opportunity to play a little bit of PK at forward, but I played a lot as a defenseman. I played a little D in Rochester.

This year, I got the opportunity to put my face in front of pucks. Took advantage of that, I enjoy it. It's a great way to get ice time. It's an effort thing. I enjoy it. I like to try to get the puck and breaking up plays.

JFTC: It's pretty amazing that PK'ing is something you just kind of picked up. You seem to be very strong with your angling and getting in the shooting lanes. Who have you been looking to and learning from?

JST: Here, I play left wing here, so I watch a lot of what Mike Mersch does. If I'm in a game, I'll see what he's doing, especially his first couple of shifts. Just see how he's reacting in terms of defensive zone posture and stuff like that.

And then I watch a few NHL guys like a Joel Ward or a Pavelski or a Kopitar or a Carter, just seeing how they go about their angles. I'm lucky here, they let me go on the brink of going out of control. I like to get pretty aggressive and stuff.

But in terms of getting in front of lanes...that's not something you necessarily learn or teach. It's a want. It's not really a skill, I suppose. You either want to take a shot or you don't. So as a pro, I want to take shots. (laughs)

JFTC: Stutts said that the team's dump-ins in Game Three weren't very good. What do you guys have to do to improve that going forward?

JST: It's keeping away from the goaltender. You don't want the goalie to handle the puck 'cause if the goalie handles the puck on any team, if he handles it decently, you're going to get the puck up the wall and make it easily for their dmen to make plays.

Instead of [defensemen] having to pick it off the wall, they can get it cleanly and get their head right up ice. And then for [dumping at opposing] dmen, you want to make sure they have to turn around and get the puck. You have to make sure that they have to pivot, and now, they're looking over their shoulders, seeing someone like me or Augie or Cres, someone bearing down on them.

Our team, no matter the size of a guy, they always finish checks. May not make a difference in the 1st or 2nd...but maybe toward the end of the 2nd period, it makes a difference. They'll be tired, looking over their shoulder, maybe they're going to make a mistakes and turnovers. That's how we get into the core of our game, which is puck possession. We're a puck possession team.

JFTC: Stutts and a lot of your teammates have talked about keeping the puck away from Matt Hackett. How do you guys do that? Is it placing the puck in the right place?

JST: Exactly. If you're going to rim it, it gotta be hard, right? So he can't step out the net and catch it. If you're going to chip it in, it's gotta be a nice, soft chip either to yourself or the opposite corner. You have to make it a race where it's a 50-50 battle. You can't just put it somewhere the D can just skate it cleanly without getting bumped.

It's about placement. Anybody can dump the puck in, but there's definitely a right and wrong way to do it.

Mike Stothers

JFTC: The team has done very well after 3+ days rest this season. Do you attribute that to anything in particular?

Mike Stothers: Probably the three-plus days of rest. I don't know. I was not aware of that. I know, you love your [numbers]...

JFTC: You guys have an .800 points percentage this season on three-plus days rest. (JFTC Note: Ontario's regular season points % was .684. They have a 15-3-1-1 record on 3+ days rest.)

MS: That's good. Well, it gives you a chance to recover. It gives you some good practice days. Get back to good habits, repetition that you need. Did you do San Diego's?

JFTC: Yeah, .455 points percentage on three-plus days rest. (Note: San Diego's regular season points % was .618. They have a 9-11-1-1 record on 3+ days rest.)

MS: Really? So they don't like the long lay-off. So we should play again two weeks from Friday. If the league could stretch that out, that would be great.

JFTC: One player who started in Manchester but has carved a big role here is Jordan Samuels-Thomas. Can you talk about what's he done this year to cement his spot in the line-up?

MS: Well, he's a big body. He plays a heavy game. Kind of wears the opposition down. He's a real good penalty killer for us. Fearless, blocks shots. And he's a physical presence. It's not a fighting situation. But he's big and he's heavy and he leans on the opposition and he's good down low.

I think he's got a better scoring touch than he shows. He seems to be streaky. I'm not sure he's as convinced as I am that he can score. But maybe that's just something that he's always been told he's a checker or a role-player type of thing. We're still working on trying to expand that for him.

But you know, he came in, and he was marked in for Manchester. And he came in, played well, we had a need, we had some holes at that time. Just a guy there who took advantage of an opportunity. He's pretty reliable. We can depend on him late in the game, we can depend on him in defensive situations. I still think he can bring more to us offensively.

JFTC: In particular, he's become a penalty killing fixture. He seems really strong at taking smart angles in puck pursuit and getting in the shooting lanes.

MS: Yeah, he does. I think, you know what, he's not quick, he's not fast, not saying he's a slow skater, but he has to rely on his angles, he has to rely on a good stick. And part of being a good penalty killer is being willing to front shots. He's certainly done that for us.

Maybe that's how he was first able [to get us enamored with his game]. He found something he could do, do it really well. From there, it becomes a bigger role on the team.

Jonny Brodzinski

JFTC: You played some important games against Michael, but was there a different feeling playing him in the playoffs for the first time?

Jonny Brodzinski: Oh, for sure. It was kind of do or die now this time of year. One of us was going home, one of us was staying.

Yeah, it was something we kind of dealt with in college too. We had a Regional Final game against of us went to the Frozen Four, one of us went home. It was a lot of fun, it was something fun for the family.

JFTC: What it kind of strange seeing Kris Newbury and Michael jousting sticks like they did in that San Jose game?

JB: Yeah, him and Newbs pretty much have the same personality in that way. They're just both so intense when they're on the ice. Great guys when they're off the ice.

Michael Mersch

JFTC: The team has done very well after 3+ days rest this season. Do you attribute that to anything in particular?

Michael Mersch: Players recovering away from the rink. Do a good job, pretty disciplined team. They feed us at the rink here, breakfast and lunch. They do a good job with that kind of stuff. We have a good strength coach here.