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Dylan Holloway: The Center Experience

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Photo credit:Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Curlock
1 month ago
I think the best way to start this article on Dylan Holloway’s first AHL game at center with the Bakersfield Condors is just to play the first shift of the game. Holloway centered Raphael Lavoie and Lane Pederson in his first game, and this was their first shift.

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I mean I could write 1000 words on this first shift alone. Holloway enters the zone in a very disciplined way holding the F3 role. When the puck rotates up, Holloway comes all the way up zone to create a 2-3 attack. This leaves a big gap in the center of the zone and the Condors exploit the area. His second key moment is when he rolls off his F3 position to a loose puck and engages two players, allowing Raphael Lavoie to pick the puck up and attack the net. After a lost possession, Holloway and his linemates backcheck hard through the puck and cause a quick turnover. Finally, watch the ice Holloway covers to get to a loose puck and send a pass to a wide-open Lavoie net front. Unfortunately, Lavoie could not handle it, which was too bad because that was a surefire, great dangerous chance.
That first shift was essentially a precursor of the entire night for Holloway and his line. Now the focus for Holloway on this night was how he could handle the center role with an emphasis on his defensive zone and neutral zone play. For this one night, it was high quality. Watch this clip of Holloway in his zone. The Condors run the box plus one defense just like the Oilers. Again, the goal here is when the puck gets bobbled or the player is on the wall in a vulnerable position, the nearest player is to attack. Watch Holloway close the gap on this play, eliminate the player and create a loose puck. He then immediately takes off up the ice on a mid-lane attack that gets foiled at the last moment.

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Holloway’s play in the neutral zone was equally strong. After a puck loss on the attack, the San Jose Barracuda headed back up ice with an odd-man rush. Watch Holloway recognize the danger and get back to creating a 3v2 instead of 3v1. Then comes the cool stuff. You can see Holloway read his defensman playing the pass. He fills the seam pass lane and then attacks the puck carrier’s stick who really is in a good position to shoot. Holloway closes the gap so quickly that the attacker’s shot is deflected by Holloway, and the Condors head back up ice. This is very good stuff.

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Holloway played a very composed game tonight. For a player who has his size, skating ability and aggressive mentality, I thought he picked his spots of when to attack and when to fight another day. Watch this play here that starts with the Barracudas gaining possession. Holloway could have attacked but instead reverted to his role in the 1-2-2 forecheck. When the puck is advanced up the ice, look who is in the perfect spot to intercept the pass and get the Condors’ attack started. This was a very measured play that led to a great result.

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Now that doesn’t mean Holloway wasn’t a threat on offense. On the contrary, most of his shifts led to offensive opportunities. He led his team with seven shots on net and helped set up numerous opportunities for his teammates. Look at this tremendous rush. I still am baffled how Lavoie didn’t get credited with a goal, but it takes nothing away from the play by Holloway. His speed and puck skills at speed are absolute NHL plus. It will be interesting to see if the change to center holds in the NHL and whether that extra space frees him up for additional offensive opportunities.

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Holloway got on the scoresheet scoring a great powerplay goal off a beautiful feed from Seth Griffith. The powerplay led by Holloway and quarterbacked by Philip Broberg was strong all night, going 2 for 4, including this one by Holloway.

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At the end of the night, the Condors won 3-2 and that goal by Holloway was the game winner. Holloway finished the night 1-0-1 with seven shots on net. He played 19:36 on the night including 2:40 on the powerplay and 1:22 on the penalty kill. More impressively, Holloway was 13-8 in the faceoff dot for a 62% win percentage. His faceoff win on the first powerplay helped lead to the Condors’ first goal of the game.
Holloway and the Condors are right back on the ice Saturday night against the Barracuda. It will be interesting to see how Holloway’s body responds to the back-to-back game and the bus travel back home. Nevertheless, for one night, Dylan Holloway made a strong case that he could play a dynamic and dominant role as a center. No doubt, OEG management had to be pleased with the first outing.
See you all Sunday with the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report.

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