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'Yotes Notes: Stone Bros. Psyched for 1st NHL Battle

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Defenseman Michael Stone is eager to play against his younger brother Mark in an NHL game for the first time on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

"It’s a cool feeling to know that we’re both going to be playing in the same NHL game and we’re going to be on the same NHL game sheet," Stone said after Friday’s practice.

Michael (left) and Mark Stone.

Mark Stone, who is nearly two years younger than Michael, is a forward playing for the Ottawa Senators. The siblings from Winnipeg are very competitive with each other.

"We had quite a few battles in the basement and out on the driveway, no matter what sport we were playing whether it be hockey or baseball or whatever," Michael said. "I think that’s one of the main factors of why we got to where we’re at – because we pushed each other along and were so competitive."

Mark, too, remembers some heated battles when he squared off with his big brother.

"Every time there was an event somebody was going home pissed off," Mark told the Senators web site with a smile. "I’m sure it will be the same on Saturday night."

Michael Stone will enter the matchup with 162 NHL games on his resume. Mark has played 61 NHL games.

The Stone brothers’ parents will attend Saturday’s game, which starts at 5 p.m. Arizona time to accommodate a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. Their sons have competed against each other many times in junior hockey and in the American Hockey League, but never on such a grand stage.

Like Michael, Mark is expecting fierce competition with his brother with such bragging rights on the line.

"I'm sure he'll be amped up and try not to let me score, especially if he's matched up against me," Mark told the Senators web site. "It'll probably be one of his things, to try and shut me down."

Michael Stone said his parents have ben visiting him in Arizona this week and that they’ve watched Mark play on TV a few times.

Michael said he’s proud of Mark.

"He’s been putting up some good points and making some pretty nice plays," Michael said. "It’s good to see."

• Goaltending Coach Sean Burke has rejoined the Coyotes after helping guide Canada to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship title. Burke, who also is Assistant to General Manager Don Maloney, served as a member of Hockey Canada’s management team.

Mike Smith and Sean Burke. Photo by Norm Hall.

"It's very gratifying, and I do think we had the best team," Burke said of the experience. "But you still have to play, and the guys did that."

Burke was able to watch Coyotes prospect Max Domi thrive at the prestigious event. Domi, whom the Coyotes selected with the 12th overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, notched five goals and five assists in seven games and was named the event’s Best Forward.

"The pace he played the game at, I think, jumped out at everybody,” Burke said. “He was a factor in every game, but he was also noticeable just about every shift, and that's a kid that's gone back to junior with the right attitude and worked on his game to get to the next level.”

Now, Burke will shift his attention back to the Coyotes and the goaltending tandem of Mike Smith and Devan Dubnyk.

Regarding Smith, who is trying to work out of a season-long slump, Burke said; "For him to start to feel really good about his game, he's going to have to find a way to get a little more consistent. But we have to do that as a team, and it's hard. Not one player is going to pull us out of this (slump). It's going to have to be a group effort. It starts in goal, but it has to be everybody."

• Head Coach Dave Tippett said center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek would miss Saturday’s game. Both are nursing upper-body injuries.

• Forward Tobias Rieder will turn 22 years old on Saturday. He is hoping to celebrate his 22nd birthday like he did his 21st when he scored a goal playing as a rookie for the Portland Pirates in the AHL.

• Captain Shane Doan will wear a microphone during Saturday’s game vs. Ottawa for the FOX Sports Arizona broadcast.

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