By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes opened play at the 2018 NHL Prospects Tournament with a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues at Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich. on Friday.
Led by the team’s recent top draft picks, Andrei Svechnikov (2018, 2nd overall) and Martin Necas (2017, 12th overall), Carolina posted its first win in the eight-team tournament.
Goals from Morgan Geekie and Julien Gauthier gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead after the first period, an advantage they carried into the third which Necas and Svechnikov added to and finalized by the 14:34 mark of the third.
While Svechnikov tallied a goal and assisted on Gauthier’s goal, Necas finished a play which Janne Kuokkanen and Stelio Mattheos set up from behind the net and goal line extended.
Coming into the season with so much anticipation that the organization built up around these two players, many will see that their love of playing the game is real and that the two have formed a bond on and off the ice that is constantly strengthening.
Last off the ice following a battle drill during last week’s informal skate at Raleigh Center Ice, the two talked of how hard they worked during the summer to prepare for Traverse City and the team’s upcoming main camp which opens next week on Sept. 13.
“This year, on the ice, I feel much stronger, I feel really good.” Necas pointed out.
“The most (work in the offseason) was the faceoff because I know I need to improve it, I have to get better. I was on the ice a lot and practiced all the skills – skating, passing, shooting.”
Following Carolina’s Prospect Camp, Svechnikov worked out with his brother Evgeny, a 2015 first-round pick (19th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings, back home in Russia before returning to the Triangle.
While Necas and Svechnikov exhibit the same drive to become NHL pros, they also do it sporting infectious smiles – they’re truly having fun and trying to help one another along the way.
Sure, other prospects get along and hang out, but these two are forming their hockey identities alongside one another without any tension present in any form or fashion.
They’re not competing against each other, but rather enabling one another to get better.
When asked of their similar motivation and desire to play the game while at the same time competing to earn a spot on an NHL roster, Svechnikov hoped that they would get the chance to play together and have as much fun on the ice as they’re having hanging out with one another off of it.
“We’ll be friends always; he’s a great player,” he noted.
“Hopefully we’ll build some chemistry together.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport