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MARQUETTE, Mich. - The stage is set in Marquette, Mich., for Kraft Hockeyville USA, where the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres will face off at Lakeview Arena.
"I think it's going to be vibrant," head coach Bill Peters said. "It will be energized. The fans are going to be great. It's fun to be a part of Kraft Hockeyville and bring NHL hockey to a small community."
"It brings back memories of when I was a little kid, playing in these types of rinks," defenseman Noah Hanifin said. "I think it's a really good event just to spread the game and show people who may not be able to see NHL games as much what it's all about. I'm definitely excited to be able to play in this game."
Aside from Hockeyville's fanfare, tonight is yet another crucial evaluation tool for the Hurricanes' coaching staff and front office as the team's training camp roster prepares to get thinned.
"A lot of young guys in the game," Peters said. "We're going to have to make some decisions moving forward, so a close eye on the bubble guys."
The trio of Jordan Staal, Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil has been reunited up front, and it's a young forward lineup after that. The line of Brock McGinn, Derek Ryan and Phil Di Giuseppe that was used on Sunday evening in Minnesota will again see game action tonight. In addition, Peters will get his first preseason glimpse of first-round draft pick Julien Gauthier.
On defense, Brett Pesce will draw back into the lineup tonight after an illness struck late last week.
"We've got to be realistic about that," Peters said. "I know some of them lost a lot of weight and some strength. As we keep going along, they should get better and close to 100 percent healthy."
For the first time this preseason, the Hurricanes will not split goaltending duties. Cam Ward will play the full 60 minutes between the pipes tonight.
"It will be good for him to go the distance," Peters said.
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