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Devante Smith-Pelly tries to make an impression with Ducks

Forward, 19, might not be old enough to serve beer as a pregame worker during a promotion but he is not too young to aim at making the roster.

September 21, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Rookie right wing Devante Smith-Pelly hopes to earn a full-time job playing hockey for the Ducks this season.
Rookie right wing Devante Smith-Pelly hopes to earn a full-time job playing… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Pizza and a beer.

Devante Smith-Pelly had no problem fulfilling the first part of the order at Honda Center on Wednesday night, but the beverage request posed a problem for the teenage forward.

"Someone asked me that too — am I allowed to serve beer?" Smith-Pelly said. "I'm like, 'Sorry, if I was in Canada, I'd get you one.'"

Too young to serve beer. Not too young to have a shot at cracking the Ducks' roster.

The same thing happened to Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler the previous night when he was serving pizza. It is part of a Ducks preseason gimmick — also done last year — in which the organization has several players not in uniform "working" in various spots around the arena before exhibition games.

Smith-Pelly turned 19 in June, and Fowler, who is coming off an impressive rookie season, doesn't turn 20 until December. You can combine their ages and still have room to spare before matching Teemu Selanne's 41 years of age and wisdom.

One thing that surprised Smith-Pelly was how many fans recognized him since the Ducks took him in the second round of the draft (42nd overall) in 2010. He played in the Ducks' exhibition opener Tuesday against Phoenix, and Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle noticed improvements from last year.

"He was trying to catch up to the game in certain situations and again he needs to be that physical player who is on the body," Carlyle said. "I think he looks more like a prototype pro player than he did the last time around. He's lighter, leaner and he's moving better, that's for sure."

By virtue of the Internet, really, almost everyone can be a backseat general manager these days. And Smith-Pelly entered the dialogue in a big way with his hard-hitting, eye-opening performance at a national development camp in Edmonton, Canada. Team Canada Coach Don Hay told reporters after one scrimmage that Smith-Pelly was the best player on the ice.

"Any time you go to a junior camp like that you want to impress," Smith-Pelly said. "I was playing with two pretty highly touted prospects, [Jaden] Schwartz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but I just tried to go in there and create space for them and let them do what they do best.

"I don't want to say it's intimidating, but when you play guys like that you don't want to bring them down."

Ducks notes

The highlights?

Well, they were limited for the Ducks in a 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.

Goalies Jeff Deslauriers and Iiro Tarkki split the game, and Deslauriers gave up two goals and Tarkki gave up the rest. Forward Andrew Gordon scored for the Ducks.

"The way we played tonight it's like we were, I would call, brain-dead," Carlyle said. "We didn't do a lot of things with the puck that gave us any type of forecheck to get going. When we did have chances, it seemed we didn't have any finish."

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