After a successful first season with the Wolves, center Gage Quinney saw areas of his games he wanted to enhance. So he worked closely with Vegas Golden Knights strength and conditioning coach Doug Davidson and focused especially on his speed.
It’s a small sample size, but through seven games, Quinney’s offseason work seems to be doing wonders for the 24-year-old.
Quinney’s speed was on full display Wednesday in the Wolves’ 3-2 win over the Texas Stars.
Quinney scored two goals in the first period. Forward Lucas Elvenes connected with Quinney, who raced down the middle and scored off a backhanded shot. Then, he ripped a top-shelf goal over Stars goalie Landon Bow.
Quinney said being quicker has made his life easier on both sides of the ice. He’s able to beat out opponents and get into scoring positions sooner. But he also said he wouldn’t have this early season success without his linemates, Elvenes and Tye McGinn, who both had assists on his second goal.
“As a line, we’ve just been playing good,” Quinney said of the trio, who has scored eight of the Wolves’ 15 goals this season. “Elvenes is so skilled makes every pass like he showed today and then McGinner is also really skilled so I think our skill really meshes together and that helps us and we play fast, so it’s exciting.”
Coach Rocky Thompson believes Quinney, who tallied 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) in 68 regular-season games last season, has elevated his game in a lot of ways this season, and speed is only one of them.
“If you asked the players last year who ... they always wanted to play with, [it was] Quinney because I think he makes his teammates better,” Thompson said. “He plays a 200-foot game, he defends well, he’s very smart so he can make adjustments and his offensive game has just been good.”
And Quinney’s been so impressive this season that Thompson believes it’s only a matter of time before he gets a call up.
“I just see him getting better each and every day,” Thompson said. “And I think he can play in the NHL.”
Quinney’s speed is noticeable in the American Hockey League, but the NHL is a different beast. The game is faster and more physical.
But Thompson believes Quinney wouldn’t have a problem adjusting to the NHL.
“He can play fast and a lot of playing fast is your brain,” Thompson said. “And so I think he’s ahead of the play mentally. Is he as dart-y as some players? No, but he’s not slow by any stretch of your imagination.”
Playing in the NHL is obviously a dream of Quinney, who is from Las Vegas. But it would be even more special for him and his family if he made his debut with the Golden Knights. Quinney’s father, Ken, played for the Thunder of the International Hockey League in Las Vegas.
Though the thought is great, Quinney isn’t trying to get ahead of himself. He’s focused on helping the Wolves be successful this season.
“That’s what you push for,” he said. “But while you’re here you just want to get better help the team keep winning and then go from there.”