Hurricanes Finish 4th in Traverse City Tournament


Over the past few days, the Hurricanes’ Traverse City squad took to the ice against other teams’ prospects.  The Sabres, Stars, Rangers, and Red Wings all fielded teams against some of the best prospects in our system.  I felt like taking a little time to reflect on what was an informative performance by the team.

This year’s Traverse City roster included the likes of Haydn Fleury, our most recent first round pick, Brock McGinn, arguably one of our most promising prospects, Victor Rask, another top prospect, and Daniel Altshuller, a goalie with promise and space to grow.  Other prospect camp invitees and past draft picks filled out the roster.  It is relevant to note that Jake Chelios, son of Chris Chelios, did not in fact participate in the tournament with the Canes; he joined the Blues in their respective tournament.

The Canes started the tournament off by facing the Buffalo Sabres.  In a dominant 6-1 win in which the Canes were outshot 35-20 (not a new thing for us Canes fans), the up-and-coming Hurricanes showcased why they were selected in the Draft or invited to participate.  The big star was the power play and was supported by strong net play by 37th overall pick Alex Nedeljkovic.  Power play goals scored by Brock McGinn, Alex Aleardi, and Phil Di Giuseppe set the tone.  The combination of speed and quality chances allowed the Canes to take out the Sabres, who maintain a quality prospect pool filled with high draft picks.

The next game, against the Stars, did not end so well.  The Canes’ lack of defensive experience, as well as the scoring prowess of some of our offensive weapons, was showcased in the 4-2 loss.  The two tallies came from the likes of Victor Rask and Sergey Tolchinsky, one stemming from a very promising offensive effort.  In the end, however, shaky goaltending by Daniel Altshuller and a lack of offensive pressure doomed the Canes.

The third game for the Canes brought with it the New York Rangers contingent.  This nail biter took both teams to overtime where Canes’ center Victor Rask slotted home the game-winner.  Brock McGinn also tallied a goal while setting up numerous chances (including Rask’s game-winner).  Alex Nedeljkovic got the start and earned his second win of the tournament while stopping 16 of 18 shots.  This game seemed to reaffirm the quality of play we see from Brock McGinn and Victor Rask.  They could crack the Canes’ roster in the next year or two dependent upon depth.

The final game could have secured a third place finish for the Canes, but overtime proved to be our downfall.  The Red Wings ended the Canes’ tournament run on a Tyler Bertuzzi power play goal.  With just under 4 minutes left in regulation, the Canes maintained a 4-2 lead only to see it squandered away 2 minutes later.  Another strong showing by Rask, McGinn, and Tolchinsky was overshadowed by the loss.

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But, the tournament was not as much about winning, as we finished 2-1-1, as it was about gaining experience and showcasing skill.  We do have a handful of promising prospects that could crack the NHL roster within the next couple of years.  For the time being, many of these future Canes will either be sent back to their junior teams, like Haydn Fleury, or sent to the Checkers, like Victor Rask and Daniel Altshuller.  Again, this tournament proved to be a wonderful outlet to view and critique our prospect pool.  Many positives, like the play of Victor Rask, Brock McGinn, Sergey Tolchinsky, Haydn Fleury, and Alex Nedeljkovic, were seen along with a couple places to improve, like defensive pressure and Altshuller’s goalie play.  All in all, I see no reason why this wasn’t an overall positive experience for the prospects, coaches, front office, and fans.