Petiot’s steady play leads Monarchs defense

By Colleen Greene

Even as consistently as he’s played all season on the blue line for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, it’s not a stretch to say that Los Angeles Kings prospect Richard Petiot has had an up and down season.

The 2001 fourth-round draft pick has been recalled to the Kings on four separate occasions in this, his rookie season, but has seen more ice time on the practice rink than in actual NHL games. The 6’3, 200-pound defenseman did manage to skate in two games for the Kings last month, registering two penalty minutes. While he only got into a couple of games, the Daysland, Alberta native still said his stint with the big club was time well spent.

“Oh, it was great. Every time I went up there, I saw how hard everybody works,” he said after scoring his fourth goal of the season for the Monarchs in a 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Phantoms on Feb. 19.

“The work ethic is just unreal with the guys up there, from all their d-men – from (Mattias) Norstrom to (Aaron) Miller, to (Tim) Gleason – all those guys work hard. When I was up there, I was able to watch the game from up top and learn how to play. They keep it simple up there. Every one of them skates hard back to the puck, and they just keep things simple.”

His first game action in the NHL was a tough test for Petiot, as he faced the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 17, but the hard-hitting blueliner was anxious to get going.

“Actually, I wasn’t too nervous. I was kind of surprised,” he said. “I had been up there a few times before, so I was ready to go. It was six or seven games I was up there before I got a chance, so I wasn’t too nervous. It felt good. Hopefully, I can get more games in up there.”

Petiot is having a solid, if unspectacular season for the Monarchs in his freshman campaign, helping the team climb to 33-16-2, second place in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. Despite his numerous call-ups, he has played in 42 games for Manchester, posting 11 points on four goals and seven assists. But he prides himself on his steady defensive coverage and smart play in his own zone, an area he has excelled in given his +17 rating, which ranks third on the team.

Getting a chance to briefly experience the NHL game allowed him the opportunity to see what he needs to work on in Manchester to land a full-time gig in LA.

“Consistency is one thing,” he said. “Just keeping everything simple. I just want to go back to the puck hard, play the body, be physical all the time, move the puck out. I just want to do all the simple things right and be consistent.”

Petiot’s road to the NHL took him through Colorado College, where he played all four years of his collegiate career, and was actually a teammate of current Manchester forward Noah Clarke. In 141 games played, he totaled 33 points, and helped the Tigers to the Frozen Four last season as a senior. He credits Colorado for helping him establish the work ethic he has today.

“I think Colorado prepared me really well, actually,” he said. “I was able to come in here and just work hard. You learn how to work hard definitely in school, between going to classes and then going to practice every day, you learn how to work hard. I think that’s the biggest thing here is working hard and staying consistent, so I think Colorado College was good for me.”

The 23-year-old graduated for Colorado this past year with a degree in history, and is very happy with his decision to play college hockey.

“I had four more years to develop was one main reason,” Petiot said of his choosing college over juniors. “Plus, I get a good education out of the deal, so that’s something for me to fall back on. I had an opportunity to go to (juniors), but my parents strongly persuaded me to go to school, which I think was a good decision.”

And that decision is now reaping benefits. Already getting a taste of the NHL this season, Petiot is hungry for more, and if he keeps playing the way he has been, it probably won’t be too long before he gets another chance.

“I hope things keep going the way they’re going now,” he said. “Game in and game out, I just want to play hard, play solid. During the playoffs, I just want to stay healthy and work on the simple things and have some fun – that’s the main thing.”

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