SASKATOON - The latest stop on the Carolina Hurricanes' seven-game preseason tour takes the team to Saskatoon, Sask., where they will again face off with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at SaskTel Centre.
The Canes landed in Saskatoon late Monday night after a 6-2 win over the Oilers at Rogers Place, and on Tuesday, the team got back to work. This is, after all, still training camp, and important personnel decisions loom in the coming days.
"Today was a good day. We got some work done. The guys had a lot of jump. We worked on things we haven't been able to touch on: a few D-zone faceoff scenarios, set forecheck, set breakout," head coach Bill Peters said after practice. "We've got a nice practice week coming up following the Washington game. We've got our checklist of things that we've got to get to, and slowly but surely we're getting there."
Wednesday's neutral-site contest will mark the sixth of seven exhibition matches for the Canes, who are 4-1 in the preseason and a perfect 4-0 on the road. With the team still needed to trim at least 10 players from their roster, these final two games could be a final chance for someone to make a lasting impression.
"Real good, real competitive," Peters said of his lineup for Wednesday. "We're making reads and evaluations on guys continuously."
Taking the Game on the Road
Taking a step back from the ins and outs of training camp, it's always a fun time bringing an NHL game to a city that doesn't get to regularly experience one. For some in the crowd tomorrow night, it may be the first NHL game they're seeing live, something that could create a fan for life or spark a kid to put on some skates and pick up a stick to see what he or she could do on the ice.
I was arguably that kid when the Hurricanes first played in Greensboro in 1997.
"It's fun. A lot of these guys are small-town guys. Not that Saskatoon is a small town, but it's a city that has a Western Hockey League team and is a passionate hockey province and city," Peters said. "I expect a fun atmosphere tomorrow. Guys are excited."
Ward Comes Home
Goaltender Cam Ward was born in Saskatoon and spent the first two years of his life in the city before moving back for another four years when he was six years old.
This is where it all began for No. 30, who will get the start in net for the Hurricanes on Wednesday.
"My first year ever playing organized hockey was when I was six years old being here in Saskatoon as a Saskatoon Flyer," he said. "It's cool. I remember coming here to play the Saskatoon Blades when I was a Red Deer Rebel, so I'm familiar with the rink. It will be fun."
Defenseman Haydn Fleury is a native of Carlyle, Sask., which is located about four hours southeast of Saskatoon, so Wednesday's game will be somewhat of a homecoming for him, as well.
"When it came out that the game was in Saskatoon, I was pumped. I wanted to play in it," he said. "I've got a lot of friends and family coming up from Carlyle. My parents and some aunts and uncles are flying up from Calgary. It should be an exciting game."
Fleury is among the defensemen battling to remain with the big club come next week. He's made a strong case for himself, and game six of the preseason will be another opportunity for him to impress the coaching staff and front office.
"It's really exciting. Every step of the way I've come back to Saskatchewan, playing in the Western League," he said. "This is the one final jump trying to make it in your hockey career, and it's exciting to play a game in my home province."