Angelo Esposito made his AHL debut today for the Chicago Wolves. The team pulled its tried and true rookie prank on him, though it didn't work quite as well on him as it has some others.
Esposito and Ondrej Pavelec.
Bryan Little and Esposito.
He looked pretty nervous during warmup, but when he saw a camera on him, tried to put on a good face.
Esposito played left wing on the fourth line with Steve Martins and a rotating winger. He saw about two or three shifts a period. Once when Martins was tossed from the faceoff circle, he and Darren Haydar quickly discussed who would step in. They decided on Espo.
A few times Esposito's shift was cut short when a penalty occurred. He drew a hooking call himself once as he crossed the blue line with speed.
In general I thought he did a lot of running around. Seemed to want to be everywhere. Went for some hits, but doesn't really have the body mass yet to be an effective hitter.
He had a nice one-timer that he shot wide, but otherwise no scoring opportunities. He had a dipsy-doodle move in the slot once, but the defender was right on him.
All in all, he showed a glimpse of his talent, but wasn't in the best places to get the puck on his stick. I asked Peoria's play-by-play guy what he thought of him, because I know Tom and he has no dog in the hunt, and he said he thought he looked raw, and that he has talent but doesn't know where to go. And that guys out of junior/college run around with chickens with heads cut off, and he followed that pattern.
Dan Marr of the Thrashers was there to see him.
I asked Wolves coach John Anderson what he thought of his play, and he was complimentary:
"Really liked him. You can see he's got some savvy, a good shot, and he's pretty smart with the puck. His first game, he was a little nervous, but I thought he played very well for us. I'm happy we had a chance to use him."
Anderson had the rink diagram out with him on the bench, drawing a few things. One thing he was showing him was "soft locking."
"If he's the last guy in the zone, when he comes over to the player, normally you want to go and take the man out, but you can't because you'd get trapped against the wall and it's a 3 on 2 the other way," Anderson explained. "So what we teach is to come up and soft lock on the guy -- you turn up with him as opposed to taking him out, so at least you're coming back with the play instead of getting stuck on the wall. A few other things, but he's very good, a quick learner. He hadn't seen our team play or our systems at all. Nelly (asst coach Todd Nelson) spent a good 45 minutes before the game explaining a few things we like to do. He was very receptive, a quick thinker."