Sam Steel netted his first career hat trick with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night in a 5-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks.
In the wake of yet another Ryan Getzlaf injury, the Anaheim Ducks called upon Sam Steel. His call up was no surprise, especially after the season he has had with the San Diego Gulls. In 50 games with the Ducks AHL affiliate, he has 39 points which is enough for him to be the fourth highest point producer on the team.
He made his way onto Anaheim’s roster at the beginning of the season, but was, quite frankly, underwhelming. In his first 13 games with the big club, Steel had 3 points, which included one goal and two assists. However, in the grand scheme of things, due to the Ducks coaching situation, there were quite a few rookies who left a lot to be desired.
Troy Terry has been the perfect example of a player who struggled mightily under the reign of Randy Carlyle, blossomed under Dallas Eakins, and has flourished with Bob Murray behind the bench. With a new coach behind the bench, this was the perfect opportunity for GMBM to see if his 2016 first round draft pick was as highly touted as previously thought.
In the not to distant future, someone is going to need to take Ryan Getzlaf’s place as the first line center. Steel is without a doubt one of the best pivots in the Anaheim Ducks pipeline, and unless they draft in the top 5 this year, Steel is currently the best candidate to take over once Getzy decides to finally hang up his skates.
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Bob Murray is no fool. With Getzlaf sidelined due to an upper-body injury, Tuesday night’s game was the best opportunity for Murray, as well as the fans, to see if Sam Steel has what it takes to fill a pair of Ryan Getzlaf sized shoes. While the increased responsibility may be overwhelming for players that young, Steel took it in stride, netting his first career hat trick.
A Beauty on the Breakaway
Both the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks remained scoreless a little less than halfway through the first period. While a 0-0 game in the first period isn’t a travesty for two teams so close to playoff elimination, someone would have to break the tie at some point. With the puck in the Anaheim Ducks zone, the Vancouver Canucks were hoping to take control of the game.
A shot from the Canucks was blocked and the puck was deflected. In one swift motion, Steel races up the ice. Even though the puck was safely secured on his stick, he refuses to slow down. He looked absolutely electrifying, his speed allowing him to completely separate himself from both the Canucks and his own team.
As the Canucks attempt to catch up to him, Steel beats them to it. Opening up Jacob Markstrom, he tucked a beautiful wrist shot right through the five-hole, scoring the goal completely unassisted. The Ducks held the lead, with the second half of the first period still left to play.
Jake Virtanen wasted no time tieing up the game. With a little help from Cam Fowler‘s left skate, there wasn’t much John Gibson could do to keep Virtanen’s backhander from marching straight into the net. A second goal, just minutes later, from Alexander Elder gave the Canucks one-goal lead going into intermission. His lone goal of the night helped him tie a record for the most goals scored by a Vancouver Canucks defenseman.
A Wrister on the Rebound
The first half of the middle period was relatively quiet for both teams. Still holding securely to a 2-1 lead, Vancouver was starting to get a little too comfortable. Kiefer Sherwood, who was called up along with Sam Steel, gained possession of the puck. In an attempt to tie it up, he shoots the puck, but it’s blocked by Markstrom.
The “Duckling line” of Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Kiefer Sherwood was an experiment worth trying, and it certainly paid off. Markstrom mishandled the shot from Sherwood, putting him completely out of position. Steel pounced on the rebound and swept it home, wiring a wicked wrister past Markstrom for the second time that night.
Compleating the Hat Trick on a Penalty Shot
Sam Steel’s third goal was quite an interesting one. Markus Granlund was penalized after he pushed a broken stick into the puck in the defensive zone. Due to the nature of the penalty, the referee’s had no other choice than to award the Anaheim Ducks a penalty shot.
After scoring two goals already, it was no surprise that Sam Steel was the Ducks player of choice. It was just Steel and Markstrom on the ice, and although he probably felt some pressure to take back the lead for his team, he exuded confidence that we had not seen from him at the beginning of the season. As he skated in to steal the lead, he lifted a glorious backhander from the top shelf and powered it under the crossbar.
With his third goal of the night, he became the youngest rookie in Anaheim Ducks history to score a hat trick, a record previously held by Bobby Ryan. He is now the youngest player in Ducks history to have scored on a penalty shot. To add to that, he joined a short list of only two other players, including the Anaheim Ducks very own Teemu Selanne, to complete a hat trick with a penalty shot goal.
To finish off the night, Rickard Rakell scored his fourth goal in only three games. Kiefer Sherwood would finally get his chance to score a goal too when he fired a wrister past Markstrom on a turnover, giving him the game-winning goal.
While we may not have seen enough of Sam Steel in the NHL to make an accurate judgment, it’s nights like those that make Ducks Nation antsy for the future. After a game like that, there is no doubt in my mind we will see great things from the Sherwood Park native during his time with the Anaheim Ducks.