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Nash, Jared Staal Join Fun in Day Two

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
An already larger-than-expected group of players at the Hurricanes’ informal practices got a little bit bigger on day two.

Paul Branecky
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Riley Nash and Jared Staal joined the group after arriving in Raleigh after the first day’s session had concluded on Monday.  Both players are hopeful of earning NHL roster spots this fall after joining the Hurricanes’ organization this past offseason.

“I’ve never been on the ice with so many good players, so it’s a little bit of an eye opener,” said Nash, who was hoping to make it in time for the first session but suffered lengthy weather-related flight delays leaving New York City.  “I was definitely a little nervous at first.”

Nash, who hails from Kamloops, British Columbia, had spent the previous few days tying up some loose ends at Cornell University.  Those included finding someone to take over the lease of his apartment and taking the necessary steps to make sure he could come back to complete his degree if he so chooses.

Nash said he had no regrets about his decision to turn professional by signing a contract with Carolina in July and thus foregoing his senior season with the Big Red.

“Other than having to say goodbye to some close friends, it’s been really exciting for me,” he said.

Nash and Staal, who had a much smoother travel experience coming in from Thunder Bay, Ontario, participated in the four-on-four scrimmage that took up most of the on-ice session.  With the physical play on defense understandably toned down from what one might expect even from a typical in-season practice, goaltenders Cam Ward and Justin Peters were counted on to make some saves, more often than not rising to the occasion.

That’s not to say it was always easy.

“I can tell that it’s going to be a competitive training camp,” Ward said of the newer faces that will be competing for spots.  “There’s no shortage of skill and character out there.”

Nash, who has as good of a chance as anyone of earning an NHL job at an open center position, understands that the road will nonetheless be difficult.

“Growing up, you always look forward to challenges,” he said.  “If it came easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

On an unrelated note, it turns out that Ward, who split his summer between his lake house in the Blue Ridge Mountains and his home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, has some experience playing in Helsinki.  While with Team Canada at the 2007 World Championship, he played an exhibition game in the city, presumably at the upcoming NHL Premiere venue of Hartwall Arena, before heading to Moscow for the tournament.  Ward later backstopped Canada to the gold medal.

"It was a cool city," he said.  "This time, our Finnish guys can take us to dinner."

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