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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

Center to Play in All-Star Weekend Exhibition Game

RALEIGH, N.C. (Jan. 24, 2004) – Carolina Hurricanes rookie centerman Eric Staal today was selected to represent the Eastern Conference in the third annual NHL YoungStars Game. The NHL YoungStars Game is a part of NHL All-Star Weekend, and will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. on Feb. 7, from XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Staal, 19, ranked fourth among all NHL rookies with 23 points and 14 assists through games of Jan. 23. Staal has notched three game-winning goals this season for the Hurricanes and ranks tied for second among all rookies in that category. His 106 shots rank him second among rookies, behind only Montreal’s Michael Ryder, and his nine goals rank him eighth. Staal has played in all 49 of Carolina’s games this season, and ranks fourth among all skaters with 23 points, third with nine goals and tied for third with 14 assists.

Carolina selected Staal with the second overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He is one of three players from the 2003 draft class selected for the NHL YoungStars Game. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (45th overall) will join Staal on the Eastern Conference team and Columbus’ Nikolai Zherdev (4th overall) will play for the Western Conference squad.

The Eastern Conference’s YoungStars squad is comprised entirely of NHL rookies, while the Western Conference’s team includes four players not classified as rookies. An NHL rookie is any player 25 or younger, with fewer than 25 games played in previous seasons. The YoungStars Game features NHL players under their first professional contract, typically in their first three professional seasons.

The Carolina Hurricanes wrap a two-game weekend home stand on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against the Buffalo Sabres. Tickets for Sunday’s game, and all January and February Hurricanes games, are available at the Dodge Box Office at the RBC Center, all TicketMaster locations or by calling 919-834-4000.

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