FRESNO MONSTERS (3-3-0, 9 pts)
Nikita Garin has scored multiple goals in three of Fresno's first six games – notching a
pair of hat tricks. Garin, a product of the Lada Togliatti program in Russia, just turned
18 earlier this month.
Monsters head coach Kevin Kaminski sees why Garin is able to produce, but thinks
this might also be just the tip of the iceberg.
"Nikita's a big strong kid with a good work ethic and a touch around the net," said
Kaminski. "He's 18 years old and really think he can be a top player in the league. I
think he's adjusted well, but still needs to be more consistent day-in and day-out and
fight through adversity."
Kaminski also feels that it's not just Garin's individual skill set that has been clicking
early in the season.
"He also has some good players around him to get him the puck," Kaminski said.
"And when they, do he finds the twine."
The Fresno is converting at a healthy 22.4% with the man advantage through their
first half-dozen games, and Garin has contributed to that success, scoring four of his
eight goals on the power play.
Garin, Kaminski and the Monsters will hit the road this week, traveling south to play
a three-game series against the Sabers in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (2-4-0, 5 pts)
What better time of year to welcome the Monsters to town? The San Diego Sabers
host the Fresno Monsters in a three-game pre-Halloween series this weekend. The
Sabers were idle last week, giving them plenty of time to rest up for this encounter
against their Western Division rivals.
San Diego has been led in the early part of the season by Ashton Jones, a 2000-born
forward who played high school hockey in Michigan for the last three seasons.
Through the first six games of the season, Ashton leads the Sabers in goals (6) and
The Sabers have benefited from a balanced scoring attack behind Jones, led by
Sabers veteran Karel Kankovsky (1-6-7) and a trio of newcomers: Tyler Balok (2-4-6),
Jakub Vesely (2-4-6) and David Grindstaff (1-5-6). Zak Hanaford has popped in four
San Diego has been much more productive in the early part of the season with 22
goals scored through their first six games (3.67 goals/game). Going up against a
perennial contender like Fresno will be an excellent test to see if they can maintain
Last year's team managed 112 goals in 51 games (2.20 goals/game).
There is still some internal competition for playing time in the crease as four
different goaltenders have already seen action for San Diego. None of the targets has
separated themselves from the pack. In fact, Marshall McKillop (.881), Tomas
Svoboda (.882) and Aleksei Vereschchagin (.879) have almost identical save
The series with Fresno continues what is a seven-game homestand for the Sabers,
who will be home again next weekend to take on the Ontario Avalanche (Friday and
Sunday) and the Valencia Flyers (Saturday).
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media