FROM SAINTS TO KINGS

Wednesday, 09.05.2007 / 4:10 PM / Features
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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FROM SAINTS TO KINGS
Another young prospect trying to get the attention of Kings management at prospect camp this week is defenseman Drew Bagnall.

What might help are the words of a former collegiate teammate with the St. Lawrence Saints, Kings forward John Zeiler...or as Bagnall refers to him, ‘Ziggy.’

“Ziggy just said they love the work side of the game,” Bagnall said of a phone conversation he had with Zeiler prior to signing with the Kings. “All through college we preached that whatever you get you have to earn and that is the mentality that I try to bring here…and that is the mentality that got Ziggy here.”

Bagnall, who signed as an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 23, was teammates with Zeiler at St. Lawrence University from 2003-06.

Zeiler joined the Kings organization as a free agent in February of this year after playing four seasons of college hockey at St. Lawrence, scoring 40-83=123 in 144 games, earning all ECAC All-Rookie team honors his freshman year in 2003.

Drafted by Phoenix in the fifth-round (132nd overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Zeiler would turn pro after his senior year at St. Lawrence. He spent eight games with the San Antonio Rampage and four games with the Central Hockey League’s Lubbock Cotton Kings during the 2005-06 season.

He then signed with the Manchester Monarchs on Sept. 20, 2006.

In Manchester, Zeiler tallied 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points with 70 PIMs in 56 games, gaining the attention of Kings management, who signed him on Feb. 17. Zeiler he made his debut with the Kings that night and skated in the last 23 games of the season, scoring 1-2=3 over that span.

“When I got called up to the NHL last season, they were calling me pretty frequently,” Zeiler said of his ex-teammates at St. Lawrence. “They were pretty excited about that.

“It was an exciting experience for me. Everyone looks for that opportunity, for that shot at the NHL and I just tried to bring that energy and bring that intensity every shift.”

Bagnall enjoyed watching his former teammate with the Kings last year, though admits it hurt his wallet a little bit.

“We did not miss a game after he was called up,” Bagnall said. “All the guys put their money together and we bought the NHL package so we were watching him.

“Seeing Zeiler up there was unbelievable and everyone was so happy because of the work he did to get up there.”

Zeiler’s play in Los Angeles earned him a multi-year contract this summer, but he does not take his spot on the roster for granted.

“You are always battling for position, you have nothing locked up,” Zeiler said. “You have to come in here and show them exactly what I showed them last year and more. You have to come into camp with that attitude that someone is going to take your spot.”

Good words of advice for his former teammate Bagnall.

The 6-3, 220-pound defenseman also played four years of collegiate hockey at St. Lawrence, scoring 19-43=62 in 140 games with the Saints. During his senior year of 2006-07, he was a first-team All American, was the ECAC Player of the Year, the ECAC Outstanding Defenseman of the Year and a Hobey Baker award finalist after wracking up career highs in points and assists, scoring 6-19=25.

Now he is trying to make the adjustment to the pro level.

“These guys are unbelievably skilled,” he said after practice on Tuesday. “These are the top end guys from every league, across North America and over seas. You have to be on your toes and give guys respect out there but at the same time you want to show what you can do.

“There is a great crop of young players here in LA.”

One of those young guys of course, is his buddy Ziggy.