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Deryk Engelland fills in for Silver Knights coaches at practice

Updated January 28, 2021 - 5:03 pm

Unless dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff ahead of a charity hockey game counts, Deryk Engelland had not been on the ice at Orleans Arena since his final season with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers in 2005.

But there he was Thursday, running practice for the Henderson Silver Knights.

“To come back here and be around the locker room where it all started was pretty special,” Engelland said. “Not much has changed in there, so it brings back a lot of good memories.”

Engelland stepped in while Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros and his staff are unavailable as they adhere to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.

A member of the Golden Knights’ coaching staff tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday, and the staff began self-isolating “out of an abundance of caution.”

Viveiros, along with assistants Jamie Heward and Joel Ward, joined Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon behind the bench for Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to St. Louis at T-Mobile Arena.

The NHL announced that Thursday’s game between the Golden Knights and Blues was postponed as a result of a player and a second member of the coaching staff entering the NHL’s COVID protocols. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was included on the NHL’s daily list of players unable to practice or play because of the protocols.

Viveiros and his assistants did not take the ice Wednesday at practice and watched from their perch at Lifeguard Arena as veteran forward Patrick Brown ran drills.

Engelland, who announced his retirement in December after 11 NHL seasons and now works as the special assistant to owner Bill Foley, said he spoke to the Silver Knights’ staff Wednesday and volunteered to help Thursday.

He was unsure whether he would be needed when the Silver Knights make their American Hockey League debut in an exhibition game against San Jose at 7 p.m. Friday at Orleans Arena.

Engelland admitted to having nerves before leading a practice for the first time.

“I know what it’s like as a player to have to run your own practices,” he said. “It’s a little nicer when someone’s out there doing the Xs and Os and explaining things. I was happy to be out there and help them, and to see those guys go to battle definitely gets the competitive juices going.”

Silver Knights forward Ben Jones, who battled against Engelland during training camp in previous seasons, enjoyed seeing the former defenseman on the ice.

“Without the gear, he looks a little bit different,” Jones said. “But it was awesome having him out there.”

AHL preseason starts

Jones said Friday’s exhibition will be an opportunity to get back into game shape after not playing since the AHL season was paused in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams play again at 5 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena, and the Silver Knights are scheduled to open the regular season Feb. 6 against Ontario.

“Really just trying to get familiar with each other, get familiar with the systems and just go out there and have fun and finally play hockey and get back to what we love to do,” Jones said.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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