The young guns for the Carolina Hurricanes have played 3 games so far (their last one is today against Detroit) in the annual Traverse City tournament held in Traverse City, Michigan. There are two divisions in the tournament: The Gretzky division and the Howe division. The Gretzky division consists of prospects from the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes. The Howe division consists of the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings. Some of the prospects representing the Carolina Hurricanes include all 2011 draft picks: Victor Rask (42nd overall), Ryan Murphy (12th overall), Keegan Lowe (73rd overall), Brody Sutter (193rd overall), Gregory Hoffman (103rd overall) and Matt Mahalak (163rd overall). Also representing the Canes are a couple members of the Charlotte Checkers including Justin Faulk and Jared Staal.
Unfortunately for the Canes prospects, the first game did not go as expected. They ended up on the wrong end of an 8-2 score against the Dallas Stars after their game on Saturday. Victor Rask (on the power play) and Tyler Carroll had the goals for the Carolina. Dallas outshot Carolina 37-18, including 13-2 after the first period, when the score was 4-0 Dallas. Matt Mahalak took the loss after allowing 7 goals on 26 shots, as he was pulled after the second period in favor of Mavric Parks. It was easily a game that could have been wiped clean from the memory bank.
The second game against the St. Louis Blues started out better, as Mattias Lindstrom scored 9:44 in and the shot total after the first period was tied up at 6 a piece with Carolina leading on the scoreboard 1-0. The second period was pretty uneventful, but St. Louis did turn up the pace a little bit and was up 9-6 on shots in the period, but the Canes were still leading 1-0 after 2. In the third period, the Blues took over and scored twice (once at 9:44 and once at 12:53) and while the Canes tried to battle back at the end of the third, it was to no avail. The Blues ended up taking the game 2-1. The two teams were a combined 0-for-9 on the powerplay.
Luckily, by the time the third game came around on Tuesday against the New York Rangers, as the Canes pulled out a 4-3 victory in a 3-on-3 double overtime format. It really was quite an exciting game and one of the best that the team has played all tournament. They led in shots after the first period 15-7, but were trailing 3-2 after the Rangers scored with just a few seconds left in the period. Carolina clawed back in the second period when they tied it up at 17:42. There was no scoring in the 3rd period, but the Rangers were on the offensive, leading the shots on goal 23-5. That changed during the two overtime periods, as Carolina lead 9-1 during the extra frames. Justin Shugg then stole a pass from the Rangers’ defenseman and scored on a breakaway, winning the game for the Canes.
It was an interesting tournament for the Canes, as the coaches and management got to see the young up-and-coming prospects in their system. A few things that stuck out to me watching the Carolina/Rangers game yesterday:
- Ryan Murphy is a great offensive defenseman and will make a good point person on the power play some day, along with Justin Faulk.
- Brody Sutter is a Sutter. He’s big, can skate well, and just seems like he has a lot of “hockey sense.”
- It was good to hear Ron Francis and Rod Brind’Amour, who were both interviewed by MSG during the game, had great optimism about the team overall, including this season, the additions from the off-season and the future.