Of all his Christmases, this one is the merriest for Brendan Woods
The second-year forward was recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, and he’ll make his NHL debut in New Jersey on the eve of Christmas Eve.
“Easily the best [gift] anyone could give me,” Woods said after an optional morning skate. “That’s the one thing I kept telling myself and my family. I said, ‘Sorry mom. No matter what you got me, I think they beat you here.’”
Woods’ parents saw him play a pair of games on Friday and Sunday in Charlotte before the AHL’s Christmas break, and head coach Jeff Daniels told him not to stray too far from his phone just in case Carolina was in need of a forward.
A day later, after driving up to Washington, D.C. to visit some family and friends, Woods got the call from Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis.
“He asked me what my plans were. I told him that I was in D.C. now and planning to leave for Hershey in the afternoon, and he was like, ‘Any chance you’re willing to switch up your trip to come play for us tomorrow night?’” Woods recounted. “I had the biggest smile on my face. I said, ‘Of course.’ I had no problem doing that.”
So to New Jersey he came, and he’ll have a number of friends and family, including his mom, dad, brother and aunt, in attendance tonight.
“It’s going to be a cool time for all of us,” he said. “I’m just going to go out tonight and enjoy the experience”
The 22-year-old will become the fifth player to make his NHL debut for the Hurricanes this season, and he’ll do so against the team that drafted his father, Bob, in 1988.
In just 29 games with Charlotte this season, Woods has already surpassed his career highs in goals and points with six and 13, respectively. He ranks tied for fourth on the team in scoring, and he’s getting the opportunity to play in all situations.
“I was one of the older guys this summer at development camp with a half a year under my belt. It was all confidence,” he said of his play this season. “It stinks that some guys have gone down with injuries on our team, but in a way, it’s given me a bigger role in Charlotte. I’m playing on all special teams and on the top line, so it’s been good. Things have been going my way, and pucks have been going in.”
Woods will slot in on the fourth line on the left side with center Jay McClement and Zach Boychuk to his right.
“He’s playing real well down there. He’s a big guy who skates well,” head coach Bill Peters said. “We want him to play a north-south game, be heavy and play physical.”
“Just bring a lot of energy. That’s kind of my game,” Woods said. “I look at myself as a power forward, a big guy who can skate. I’ll keep it simple and enjoy it and have fun.”