Sheldon Keefe Post Game Comments: Leafs Rookies 6 vs. Pens Rookies 5


What do you draw from the three games you saw here as you look at the positives moving forward to big camp next week?

Sheldon Keefe: You look at the positives of what you learned about the players and the chance to interact with them. I think, more importantly — you look at this tournament and there’s always evaluations that are going on; that’s just the nature of sports — but from my perspective, and the coaching staff’s perspective, our job is to develop the players we have here and introduce them to the concepts and the systems and the language. Reinforce it for those who have been through it before. There are going to be a large number of these guys that are going to move on to Leafs camp from here. This week is a little bit of a head start for them and it will bode well for them once they get out on the ice in Halifax. Every player is here for different reasons, but — from a coaching perspective — we just wanted to see the players get a general sense of the concept of how the Maple Leafs want to play.

Did you see versatility that Andrew Nielsen brings to his game at both ends of the ice?

Keefe: Yeah, we did for sure. He’s got a lot to offer. He’s a big guy that sees the ice really well. He plays with his head move and moves the puck exceptionally well. You see what he does in terms of making plays and getting the puck to the net. He’s done that in the Western league. That’s really positive. There are things in his game defensively that we’ll continue to work at with him — an important part of his development. But there’s a lot to like there for sure.

The team had to make a comeback tonight after going into 3-0 hole. What did you like from them in the second half that maybe you didn’t see in the first half?

Keefe: I think it was more the first period, really. I’m not sure what it was; whether it was just a fast team over there, and they’ve got some older players who really set the tone for them as a group. It was a little bit harder for some of our younger guys to get themselves in the game. We just encouraged them to stick with it. We got some bounces in the second period that got us going a little bit. We’ve got some young legs and a lot of players here, so we had no reason really to be tired. Certainly not as tired as the opposition. The guys just stuck with it. The emotions were swinging all sorts of ways here tonight, getting down and getting up, and then it’s tie game that went to overtime. A lot of crazy things happen at events like this, but I’m happy for the guys getting rewarded. They put in a lot of work. We gave them a lot of information to process. Hopefully it helped them, as I said, get a little bit of a head start as they move ahead to next week.

What did Mason Marchment’s tempo bring to the bench to get you guys motivated for the latter part of this game?

Keefe: I thought he played a great game. He got rewarded with a goal. I thought he was on the puck. He protected the puck well. He was physical. I’m sure you’re referencing the fight, but I think there was a lot more to his game that allowed us to get going as a team. I really liked his game tonight, take fight aside. It’s good to see him stand up for himself and do well and all of those kind of things, but I thought he had a real nice game. A real positive step for him for sure.