Stortini’s Physical Presence Felt in Road Victory

Zack Stortini engaged in a key fight during his Nashville Predators debut.

Zack Stortini made his Nashville Predators debut in St. Louis on Saturday night. (Sarah Fuqua)

Zack Stortini’s first shift as a Nashville Predator started with a bang.

Of the five St. Louis skaters on the ice during Stortini’s first forty second shift, Stortini managed to disrupt the play of four of them. Only former Predator Scott Nichol escaped untouched.

“My job is to bring lots of energy on the ice and be a physical presence out there and make sure the other team is aware of when I’m out there,” Stortini said. “I have to be difficult to play against. I get in guy’s faces, try and take away from other players’ games and what they’re trying to do out there and every shift that’s what I’m looking to do.”

St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund scored a goal at 7:44 of the first period to put the Blues 1-0. Stortini came on the Scottrade Center ice at 8:41 for his third shift of the game and drew the Blues’ Ryan Reaves into a bout. While Reaves got the best of Stortini in the fight, the Predators managed to tie the game on a Craig Smith goal less than 3 minutes later.

“They had the momentum there,” Stortini said. “They were up one goal, they had a couple of big hits on some of our guys. I was looking to switch the momentum and stand up for some teammates who got hit. It didn’t go as well as I wanted it to – I kind of lost my balance as he was throwing a punch.”

“He stood up there taking a couple of bangs at guys and he and Reaves talked about it. He handed him his calling card and they went at it,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “Zack can play the game – he’s not a liability. He’s a very detailed guy. A lot of times you get guys who play that role that aren’t very detailed. He’s got a lot of detail – he’s a very structured guy.”

Halfway through the the second period, in a show of surprising speed, Stortini was engaged in a race to beat out an icing call – a race he won.

“I get in on the forecheck quickly,” Stortini said. “I try to win races to the puck. It was a great play by our defense to get the puck up and in. We ended up getting a good chance out there. My linemates worked really hard.”

“I thought he was involved,” Trotz said, “and that’s what you want.”

In Stortini’s last eventful shift of the game, 13 minutes into the second period, he and Blake Geoffrion raced to the corner against Carlo Colaiacovo for a loose puck. Geoffrion managed to trip Colaiacovo and the three of them went crashing into the boards. Colaiacovo was slow getting up and missed the rest of the game with an upper body injury.

“I was going in for the hit, trying to separate the man from the puck. He lost his balance, but I didn’t see how. He was falling and I tried to avoid him best I could, being that close. I didn’t see how he got hurt, but I hope he’s okay.”

Stortini finished the game with just 11 shifts for 4:53 of ice time, with 7 penalty minutes, one hit and one shot on goal. However, his impact was felt almost immediately in Nashville’s 4-2 victory.

Official Three Stars

1. Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
2. David Legwand – Nashville Predators
3. T.J. Oshie – St. Louis Blues

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A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.