Hurricanes make first cuts, seek out scorer to emerge from scrimmage

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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RALEIGH, N.C. – Having started on-ice sessions with 57 players on Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes cut eight players following a Red-White scrimmage at PNC Arena on Sunday.

Team White ended up winning the contest, 4-3, following a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime session that played out in front of thousands of fans attending the annual Caniac Carnival.

The focus of the game was to evaluate who would survive and advance to the next stage of camp.

With two preseason matchups coming up on Monday and Tuesday against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, head coach Bill Peters said two groups would be formed to compete in those upcoming games.

“We’re gonna take two groups out on the road,” Peters said.

“One group’s gonna play tomorrow, the other group’s gonna practice. Then we’re gonna reverse the itinerary the next day. Nobody has to play back-to-back, and I think it’s gonna set up well moving into the Canadian exhibition games.”

The pace of play was high from the entire list of prospects and invitees and a few handfuls of younger pros who were sprinkled through each lineup.

Forwards Chris Terry, Andrej Nestrasil and Zach Boychuk represented Team White, while Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, and Brad Malone played as a line for Team Red.

Terry and Nestrasil were centered by free agent signee Derek Ryan, while Boychuk played alongside Brock McGinn, and Lucas Wallmark.

“Personally, my goal was to prepare for a game,” Terry said.

“This was three 20-minute periods, game-like, just to get to shift-changing, feeling the puck, and takin’ hits. I think for a lot of these young guys it’s a pretty cool experience. It’s the Red-White game, there’s fans out there. I remember six, seven years ago when I was doin’ it – it’s a big thing. When that horn goes off for a goal, it’s just like a home game. I think there’s a lot of good potential out there, a lot of good players, a lot of young kids, and I think the future’s bright.”

The pros showed what the aspiring ones needed to play up to.

Nestrasil finished a nice cross-ice set-up in the low slot from Terry to put White ahead 3-1 at the 2:45 mark of the second period.

“We had a set play off the faceoff, and fortunately it worked out,” Terry said.

“I had my head up to shoot the whole way, I kinda cocked it back and the D came at me, and was fortunate enough to put it on Nesty’s stick. He may have cut it a little close goin’ post-and-in, but it was a good play that started from our zone.”

Even Ryan showed early on that he felt comfortable playing on the smaller ice surface after playing on larger Olympic-sized sheets in Europe.

It only took the compact and shifty center 53 seconds into the game to stickhandle through traffic low in the slot and score to put White ahead 1-0.

The Hurricanes’ recent top draft pick, defenseman Noah Hanifin, matched that eight minutes later when he followed up on his own rebound, and finished a play that originated from forward Sergey Tolchinsky who put the puck towards the net from the off-wing on the right side.

Wallmark used similar puck handling abilities as Ryan and scored to put White ahead 2-1 heading into the second period.

While it looked as though White would continue to dominate, Team Red led by assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour kicked its play into gear.

The line of Tolchinsky, centering Phil DiGiuseppe and free agent signee T.J. Hensick, cut the deficit to one goal with 12:20 remaining.

DiGiuseppe created space away from defenseman Tyler Ganly at the top of the crease and waited for Hensick’s pass across to easily redirect into the open net.

While posting the goal, DiGiuseppe made his presence known throughout the game by finishing checks on almost every play, and receiving the ire of it from various players on Team White.

Defenseman Haydn Fleury took exception to what he thought might have been a solid, but late hit, with a stiff slash to the pants of DiGiuseppe during the third period.

“He was playin’ hard, he was finishin’ every check,” Fleury said with a smile.

“That one might have been a little bit late, I don’t know, but with that little love tap, I kinda’ had enough of him.”

For DiGiuseppe, that was part of the game he wanted to play in order to show that he’s worked hard to be able to play at the next level.

“I felt good out there,” DiGiuseppe said.

“There was a lot of energy, I thought the pace was pretty high. I just worked hard to show the coaches and staff that I worked hard this summer and showed them that I wanted to compete – just finished my checks and get hard on the forecheck.”

Brody Sutter eventually tied it up at three goals apiece with 1:26 to play.

Both teams then headed into the 3-on-3 overtime finish with forward Brendan Woods putting away a pass from Nicolas Roy that gave White the win.

“I liked it,” Peters said afterwards.

“I like all three days, and today was no different. I thought the guys played very well, shared the puck, move the puck. There was good flow back and forth.”

While providing his comments, Peters was in the midst of making the cuts that were eventually announced to bring the total number of players remaining in camp to 49.

Forwards Clark Bishop, Steven Lorentz, Niki Petti, Nicolas Roy and Spencer Smallman; defensemen Kyle Jenkins and Josh Wesley; and goaltender Callum Booth, were all released to join their respective junior clubs.

Peters provided some more thought on what he expected to see out of his rostered players during the scrimmage in order to see which prospects would remain.

“I thought there was one shift where the Rask line dominated down low,” Peters said.

“And they should have. They should dominate at that stage of the game and did. And I thought other guys stepped it up from that point on. I thought it was good. I thought there was some good intensity. There were some guys on the body. I know Chris Terry threw a big check there, and that’s what you want. You want to play the game right, you wanna get better. You wanna be able to go into Washington and Pitt and be ready to play and already have crashed-banged and got into what’s goin’ on.”

With more cuts expected to come during the upcoming week, Peters offered up a valuable carrot for those remaining to reach for – playing time in the team’s third exhibition game.

“We’ve got the roster set for tomorrow – Monday,” Peters said.

“We’re set for Tuesday, unless something happens, there could be some injuries from this game, I’m not sure. But we have an opening sitting there, that we don’t know who we’re gonna play in that game. So, we’re gonna discuss it here in a half-an-hour and who we liked as a forward is gonna go into that game. So, it’s someone who might not make our hockey team, but it’s someone who’s bought himself another opportunity to impress. That’s what you’re tryin’ to do – you’re tryin’ to stay here as long as you can and find a way to be here right ‘till the bitter end of the preseason, and then you’re tryin’ to find a way to break from the exhibition into the regular season, and be a part of the squad.”

When asked what he expected of the individual who would fill that spot to do, the Hurricanes coach was specific and direct.

“What I want to see… we have to be able to score,” Peters said.

“So, if you can consistently generate offense for us, you have a chance to be on our hockey team. So, is that gonna’ be a Nordstrom, is that gonna be a Nestrasil, a guy that’s now a second-year pro gonna emerge more on the offensive side? Is it gonna be somebody comin’ out of college, someone comin’ out of junior? We’re gonna watch and just continue to evaluate.”