Sept. 20, 2017
When the Anaheim Ducks take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight at Honda Center in the club’s second contest of the 2017 preseason, a new face will hit the ice for his first taste of the NHL.
Escondido, Calif. native Austin Ortega is expected to slot in on the right wing for his first game at the NHL level with the Ducks. Ortega, tallied five points (4G/1A) in six games with San Diego when he joined the Gulls at the end of last season after signing an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) in advance of a one-year deal with the club that begins this season.
“Feeling that exciting feeling and just growing up and watching
The 5-8, 175-pound forward joined Anaheim’s training camp last week as one of five camp invitees signed by the Gulls to AHL deals (also Stu Bickel, Brian Cooper, Zach Saar and Jeff Schultz). Ortega’s six regular season games, in addition to his two Calder Cup Playoff appearances in the spring with the Gulls, helped acclimate him to the professional level and make a difficult transition slightly more comfortable.
“I think just being around the professional mentality, being around guys that have been professionals for a while [makes the transition easier],” added Ortega. “Just kind of taking in what they do and the whole experience, translating what I learned down there (in San Diego) and bringing it here.”
As any young forward looking to make a name for himself, Ortega is trying to calm his nerves and play his own game that got him to this level. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is looking for a far better performance out of his group tonight than what was displayed last night in the form of a 5-0 shutout loss in San Jose. Joining a mix of veterans tonight will be prospects and rookies like Ortega looking to stand out.
“Playing on a new team at a different level, I know it’s just a shift at a time,” said Ortega about how he’ll approach tonight’s game. “After my first shift it will just be a different game. I know there’s going to be a little bit of butterflies, obviously, but I know that in the end it’s just a another game. I think I just need to be the player that I have been. Just use my speed, be an offensive threat, create offense and just be consistent throughout the entire game.”
Going off of potential line combos from Kyle Shohara of the Ducks, veterans like Andrew Cogliano, Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa are likely to play with the mix of young players looking to impress Carlyle and his coaching staff. Ortega may begin tonight’s contest on a line with former Gulls Chris Wagner and Sam Carrick. Altogether, 11 former Gulls appear to be primed to skate tonight for the Ducks. Below were combinations used earlier today:
Giovanni Fiore – Sam Steel – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Kalle Kossila – Deven Sideroff
Max Jones – Antoine Vermette – Ondrej Kase
Chris Wagner – Sam Carrick – Austin Ortega
Cam Fowler – Korbinian Holzer
Jacob Larsson – Kevin Bieksa
Keaton Thompson – Steve Oleksy
The broadcast of tonight’s Coyotes-Ducks preseason game at Honda Center is RADIO ONLY and can be heard on Mighty 1090 AM or by clicking the link below.
You can also get live game updates, stats and more on the Ducks Mobile App for iPhone, iPad and Android.