Manor Akil Thomas Named AHL Player of the Week; Coach Says He’s NHL Ready


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member

Akil Thomas continues to knock on the door of an NHL call-up.

After scoring what might be the AHL Goal of the Year on Friday night in overtime, Thomas added two more goals in Sunday’s victory to give him four goals for the week. He also added in a pair of assists and had a plus-6 rating. Perhaps it was his three game-winning goals, though, that helped put things over the top, as he was named the AHL’s Player of the Week on Monday.

Ontario was a perfect 3-0-0 last week, largely due to the efforts of Thomas. On Wednesday, he scored the go-ahead goal with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, part of a 4-1 win over Tucson. His goal on Friday was Thomas’ first career overtime winner, securing a 2-1 victory over Calgary. Then, his two goals on Sunday helped Ontario claim a 4-3 victory over Bakersfield at Toyota Arena.

“I feel good right now,” Thomas told Mayor’s Manor after the game on Sunday. “I kind of have that confidence back. I went through a little rut there, I think. I just kind of stopped focusing on the results and just started focusing on my play. I think that’s kind of made a difference.”

One thing that’s been noticeable all season — as discussed in detail here — is the love coach Marco Sturm has for Thomas. It could even be argued he’s become his biggest cheerleader.

“It’s great!” Thomas said. “Obviously, it helps when the coach believes in you and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s kind of helped me this year – him just telling me the right stuff. He tells me when I’m doing well and it just gives me every reason to go out there and continue to do it. So, big thanks to him.”

Now in his fourth season as a pro, Thomas has already set career highs in goals (21) and assists (21) with about another month remaining in the regular season. He also leads all AHL players with nine game-winning goals.

“I’m happy to see it,” Sturm told us with a huge smile. “His success, it’s been skyrocketing since day one this year. He’s probably been our best player, consistently. I mentioned the other day too, with [a few guys, including Sammy Fagemo] out, I told him, ‘Take charge!’ and he took it to heart. That’s him. He leads the way, he’s getting out of his comfort zone right now and that shows me that he’s ready to go.”

The Kings have already used two of their four allowable post Trade Deadline callups. One of the two remaining is earmarked for Brandt Clarke. That leaves Thomas and Fagemo to fight for the final call-up.

“For me, I just need to show up, play hard, and help my team win,” Thomas noted. “That’s something I’d be really happy about, but it doesn’t change anything. I just have to show up and try to play my best; and I think good things will happen – now, later, whenever it is.”


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