Rochester's new ATO performed admirably on the left wing in his first game at the Blue Cross Arena. After finishing his senior year at Michigan with 7 goals and 7 assists, Alex Kile was quick to get on the score sheet for the Amerks, netting his first goal Friday night. Though he looked a bit raw, his performance was very encouraging. I'm going to rate him an A-.
Offensively, Kile's hard work allowed him to grow into the game very nicely. In the first period he was very shaky on the puck and struggled to find teammates starting the breakout. Alex was also slow in transition, and as a result was not able to make an impact on the rush. However, he was much more successful once possession was set up in the offensive zone. Kile’s best asset was his commitment to driving the net. In the second, he made a nice backdoor cut behind a defenseman allowing him to deflect Patrick Mullen's shot between the legs of the Springfield net-minder. He continued to make an impact in front of the net in the latter stages of the game. While on the power play he set up a great screen allowing to Grant to score from the point. I was very impressed that he was able to find a niche so quickly in the Rochester offense.
Defensively, Kile ended up out of position a few times, but his high work rate allowed him to make a positive impact anyway. A good example of this came in the second period when he was caught defending in front of Ullmark. He was able to gradually force a much bigger man across the crease keeping his stick lifted the whole time. Kile's biggest contributions came in the forechecking game. He was able to put pressure on the defense consistently, and it almost led to a second goal. After forcing a turnover, he beat his man and whipped a wrist shot towards the top corner on the short side. Unfortunately, the goalie was barely able to get his blocker up and get a piece of it.
Even though there were a few holes in Kile's game, his professional career is off to a great start. After a very successful four year stint with the Wolverines I am hopeful that he can remain a part of the Amerks roster going forward. He still lacks a bit of polish, but I think Kile will have success when he catches up to the speed at this level.