As an NCAA-based player, development camp represents the only time of the year the Kings are permitted to get on-ice work in with Mikey Anderson. The defenseman selected in the fourth round in 2017 has shown impressive attention to detail and work habits, along with an ability to advance the puck into the hands of the forwards. Often skating alongside Kale Clague, Anderson has impressively factored into the play on all sides of the puck and ripped a slapshot into the net off some impressive offensive zone time by the Eyssimont-Vilardi-Anderson-Dolan line during Tuesday’s scrimmage.
“Kind of feel more comfortable this year,” he said. “Last year I came right from the draft and it was a pretty quick turnaround. Being here this year, I’m just a little bit more calm. I feel more collected and am just able to learn more and take it all in again.”
He’s also continuing to build up his lower-body strength this summer, aligning with the game’s thrust towards pace, speed and getting the puck into the forwards’ hands quickly.
“They’ve been talking about that a lot this week,” he said. “The game’s getting faster, guys are getting more skilled. Talking with the staff here and everyone about getting stronger – especially lower-body and legs, working on that and quick feet – all that stuff will add up to ultimately getting faster throughout the game.”
His showing continues what has been a strong year personally and collectively. A bronze medal with the United States at world juniors built the bridge towards a strong second half, which resulted in a national championship with Minnesota Duluth. There were some devastated cuticles along the way for the Bulldogs, who entered the tournament as the West Regional’s third seed and won four consecutive one-goal games against Daniel Brickley and Minnesota State, Air Force, Ohio State and Notre Dame to win the school’s second title in eight years under Scott Sandelin.
Anderson won the title alongside his brother, Joey, a forward selected 73rd overall by New Jersey in 2016. At development camp, however, there aren’t quite as many friendly faces. The running joke is that St. Cloud State is one of Los Angeles’ minor league affiliates, given Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel, Mikey Eyssimont, David Hrenak and Easton Brodzinski’s presences at development camp, training camp and the parent club.
NCHC foe North Dakota and Big Ten outfit Minnesota remain the Bulldogs’ fiercest rivals, but the St. Cloud rivalry continues to gain steam, especially after a season in which the Huskies won three of four games and was the country’s top ranked team before they were felled by Air Force, the 16th overall seed, in the first round of a parity-rich NCAA tournament.
“It’s fun getting to know some of the other guys you’re playing against,” Anderson said. “Last year I met Easton and Mikey, and now we’ve got David here. You play against ‘em all year, so it’s fun seeing them. When we go back next year and play against some of those guys, it makes it a little more of a rivalry between us and seeing who can come out on top.”
Friendships are obviously put on hold when the players compete against each other in the heat of an extended hockey season.
“In between the whistle, maybe you say something here or there, but once the puck drops, it’s all business,” he said.