Ian Clark's On Hockey: Rookie makes most of chance
MANCHESTER -- IT WAS a breakout weekend for Scott Sabourin.
The 21-year-old rookie right wing scored four goals and added an assist to help the Manchester Monarchs take five out of six points last weekend with a 2-0-1 record. Sabourin's hot weekend more than doubled his point total for the year, taking him to six goals and two assists.
"He seems to be coming into his own. He's developing a scoring touch and it comes at a welcome time," Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. "We've had a lot of turnover and I think that it's heartwarming to see a guy making a difference in the game when he's trying to make his mark as both an offensive talent and an enforcer."
Sabourin said his comfort level is improving every day and he can see the results in the past weekend.
"Things are sort of going my way and I had a couple good shots that found their way past the goalie. I wasn't trying to do anything too fancy, I just played my game and took care of my end and the offense followed," Sabourin said. "I think with every game I'm gaining more confidence and I need to keep that going and if I keep playing the way I am, I should be all right and have a good year."
The Orleans, Ontario, native got his feet wet with the Monarchs at the end of last season, joining the team for five regular season games and three in the playoffs.
That first professional action came on the heels of a strong junior season with Oshawa, where he posted 50 points on 30 goals and 20 assists to go along with a lofty 140 penalty minutes, mostly acquired five minutes at as time for fighting.
"He's got good reach and good size. He plays an honest, tough game. As his positional play continues to improve he's going to have more opportunities to get on the scoresheet with more regularity," Morris said. "For the time being, he and Andy Andreoff have found some chemistry along with Sean Backman. He's certainly made his presence known."
Sabourin had a strong camp with the parent club in Los Angeles, but Morris said Sabourin suffered "a bit of a lull" before coming on recently.
With the Monarchs roster thinned by the call-up of Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey as well as the injury to Brian O'Neill, Sabourin and many of the other younger players are thriving amid the challenge of increased ice time and responsibilities.
"I don't want to take it for granted," Sabourin said. "It's obviously nice getting more ice time so I'm trying to do everything I can to keep earning those minutes and prove I can play this level."
Coming out of camp, Sabourin said the Kings' coaching staff wanted him to continue to play his physical brand of hockey while paying attention to the finer points such as skating and defensive zone accountability.
The Kings clearly liked what they saw out of the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder in camp and the team signed him to a three-year entry level contract in October.
Sabourin said it's easy to take coaching from an organization that clearly rewards players that work hard at the AHL level. It's all he has to do is look around the locker room at the empty stalls where Toffoli, Pearson and Vey were sitting earlier this season.
"It's definitely nice to see. It's a great organization and they always have the development (personnel) down here working with us and that helps out a lot," Sabourin said. "When you see it pay off up top (in the NHL) with those guys getting some ice time up there and getting goals and points, it's good for your confidence down here because you know they're always watching and you've got to wait for your chance."
The first-place Monarchs (13-3-4) are taking today and Thursday off for the Thanksgiving break and will return to action Friday night at Verizon Wireless Arena when they host Springfield at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for games at Hartford Saturday and Bridgeport Sunday.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.