Rookie center Dave Gans of the Kings got off to a slow start in training camp last year and was quickly shipped off to the minors.
“I had injured my ankle before training camp and I lost my confidence,” Gans said. “Mentally I wasn’t ready.”
But it looks like Gans is ready to make the Kings this year.
Gans scored two goals and had two assists to lead the Kings a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night in a National Hockey League exhibition game at the Pacific Coliseum.
It was the Kings’ first win of the exhibition season after five straight losses.
“It was long overdue,” King Coach Pat Quinn said.
Gans, 21, grew up in Brantford, Canada, which, as any good hockey fan can tell you, is the hometown of superstar center Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers.
“We live about three blocks away from Gretzky,” Gans said. “I’ve played with him a couple of times in the summer when he’s around.”
Gans was drafted by the Kings in the fourth round in 1982. After spending two seasons in junior hockey, Gans moved up to the International Hockey League where he had a big season playing in Toledo in 1984-85. Gans scored 52 goals and had 53 assists.
He has been having a good exhibition season for the Kings, scoring eight points in his last three games to take over the club scoring lead.
He scored two goals and had one assist in a 9-5 loss to Calgary last Thursday and he had an assist in a 7-6 loss to Winnipeg Saturday night.
“He has had three solid efforts,” Quinn said of Gans. “He seems to be moving into that fourth center spot which is open.”
After Vancouver center Gary Lupul scored his first of two goals to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead just 2:33 into the game, Gans scored two straight first period goals to give the Kings a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
Gans set up a second period power-play goal by Craig Redmond to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
Lupul closed the gap to 3-2 when he got his second goal on a power-play at 2:56 of the third period.
But the Kings came back less than a minute later when left wing Dave (Tiger) Williams scored off a pass from right wing Jim Fox. Gans also got an assist on the play.