Ontario Reign: Despite OT Goal, Kale Clague Has “More to Give”

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Coming off the high of scoring an OT winner on Friday night, Kale Clague is determined to continue to make the best of his time with the Ontario Reign.

Don’t look now but the Ontario Reign, who started the season with a dismal 1-10-2 record, have since pulled off six wins in their last eight games. Their most recent victory came on Friday night as the LA Kings‘ AHL affiliate capped off an overtime thriller against the Tucson Roadrunners, courtesy of a goal scored by Kale Clague.

Taken 51st overall by the LA Kings in 2016, Clague has spent the majority of his time since then further developing his game and becoming NHL ready. However, despite an 11-game stint with the big club, the blueliner has spent the majority of this season in Ontario. If Clague is disappointed by these events, though, he has done an admirable job of concealing those emotions.

It is notable to mention, though, that Clague’s overtime winner on Friday was his first of the season. Following the victory, the defenseman spoke with the media, beginning with how good it felt to get that proverbial monkey off of his back.

“Yeah, I mean, I feel like once you don’t score for quite some time, you kind of start thinking about it,” Clague said of his first goal. “You want to do as much as you can to produce and even though I’m a defenseman, I know I want to do as much as I can to produce to help the team win and stuff. Yeah, I mean, you just start to overthink it […] after games start piling up, but it felt really good, and just want to keep building off that now.”

While he is not alone in this transition, Kale Clague has had to adjust to playing under a new coach in Ontario in John Wroblewski. Having been used to Mike Stothers and his coaching style in his previous two seasons with the Reign, Clague is now transitioning to a new coach and a new style. For the Regina, Sask., native, though, the transition has been a smooth one thus far.

“I mean, I think it’s been a little different,” Clague observed. “I’ve always been working on my defensive game. That’s kind of my main focus when I’m down here, but Wrobo’s coaching style is definitely pushing the pace and D getting up and being active in the zone, which I think plays into my game. But yeah, I mean, I’m just trying to find my stride since I’ve been down and, you know, I just want to do as much as I can to help the team. I know I have more to give, and I just want to build off tonight.”

One of the trickiest aspects of the AHL game for many players is focusing on the current task at hand and not thinking about promotion to the NHL. As for Clague, while he would love to re-join the LA Kings, is determined to make the best of his time with the Reign. Whatever happens in the future will happen but until then, the Reign is Clague’s main focus.

“Yeah, I mean, not gonna lie, it’s been hard,” the 22-year-old admitted of not being with the Kings. “But, just trying to work hard every day and I just need to find my game down here. That’s the only way I’m going to get back and I know when I start playing my brand of hockey each and every night consistently, that’s only going to benefit me moving forward. Not only that but, you know, I’m a leader on this team and I have to be, you know, our best D every night. So, you know, that’s a huge responsibility and I know I have a lot more to give, and I’m going to build off tonight, and, you know, keep trying to contribute and helping this team win.”

As for Coach Wroblewski, Clague’s efforts on Friday — or any of his 16 games with the Reign this season — have not gone unnoticed.

“I thought that Clague, that was his most impactful game,” Wrobo beamed of his defenseman’s performance on Friday. “I thought he was very quiet defensively and his turnover ratio was very low, and he wasn’t around any weird items. There wasn’t any, like, How how did that guy slip behind us tonight? He was really sharp and I thought, offensively, he made a lot of good things, he did a lot of good things.”

He may continue to vie for a permanent spot in Los Angeles but until then, Kale Clague knows what he needs to do to keep getting better. He’s definitely on the right path, doing what needs to be done, but until the LA Kings come calling again, Clague is just fine helping a young Reign team turn their current season around.