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Kings' rookie trio relishes the experience of making their NHL debuts together in season opener

Kings' rookie trio relishes the experience of making their NHL debuts together in season opener
Kings rookie defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, center, celebrates with teammates Trevor Lewis, right, and Kyle Clifford after Lewis scored against the Flyers on Thursday. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Often when a player makes his NHL debut, it occurs in a normal regular season game, perhaps in an unfamiliar city.

Seldom does it happen on a team's opening night, when their name is announced during introductions and they skate out to center ice under a spotlight. Such was the case Thursday for three Kings: Alex Iafallo, Oscar Fantenberg and Kurtis MacDermid.

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"The national anthem gave me some chills," Iafallo said Friday, a day after the Kings' 2-0 victory over Philadelphia. "Very cool."

Iafallo's parents, Tom and Barbara, flew to L.A. from Buffalo, N.Y., to watch their son in person. MacDermid is from Sauble Beach, Canada, three hours north of Toronto, and there wasn't enough time for his parents to make it out. But it was special for all three to reach that moment in their careers simultaneously.

"It was great experience, especially doing it together," Iafallo said. "We had all of training camp together. It was fun to play the home opener with such an amazing team and amazing players. It can't get any better than that."

Kings coach John Stevens paused and thought for a moment when asked if he'd ever had three players make their NHL debut in the same game.

"I've had lots of young players in the lineup," Stevens said. "Whether they all made their debut together, I'm not sure."

Stevens graded them differently given their various roles. Iafallo displayed high-end skill as the left wing on the top line. The 6-foot-5, 208-pound MacDermid is an intimidating presence in the mold of former Kings defenseman Matt Greene, and he was paired with the dynamic and more offensive-driven Fantenberg.

Fantenberg is older than Iafallo and MacDermid — he turns 26 on Saturday when the Kings play the San Jose Sharks — and he has extended European experience. He said it helped to take part in development camps over the summer to adjust to the NHL game.

Fantenberg played more than 17 minutes and was a plus-1 against the Flyers with MacDermid as his partner.

"He's a big guy and he plays a simple [game]," Fantenberg said. "You feel pretty safe out there. He talks a lot and it's easy to play with him."

MacDermid turned in some big hits and knocked down the Flyers' Taylor Leier behind the net in the second period. He was inserted into the lineup after Alec Martinez got injured before the opener.

"It's something I've dreamt of since I was a kid," MacDermid said.

Third line iced

The line of Adrian Kempe, Jonny Brodzinski and Michael Cammalleri was all but benched in the third period. Kempe and Brodzinski took two shifts each and Cammalleri four.

Stevens said their ice time wasn't curbed because of the special teams situations.

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"It will be earned throughout the hockey game," Stevens said. "I thought there were times in our zone we got in trouble. That line specifically had some trouble managing the puck in the neutral zone."

UP NEXT

At San Jose Sharks

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790

Update: The post-Patrick Marleau period began Wednesday for San Jose, which lost its all-time leading scorer to the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason. Franchise fixtures Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski remain, as well as reigning Norris Trophy-winner Brent Burns. The Sharks' normally potent power play slipped to 25th in the NHL last season.

Twitter: @curtiszupke

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