TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - It's time to play some hockey.
The NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City gets underway tonight, and the Carolina Hurricanes open their three-game round-robin slate against the host Detroit Red Wings.
"I had a tough time sleeping last night. I want to get the game action going," head coach Mike Vellucci said. "I'm excited for the game and the opportunity tonight."
Video: Mike Vellucci: "Excited for the game"
"It's going to be fast. Guys want to come out and make a good first impression," defenseman and team captain Haydn Fleury said. "They'll be a little nervous. Mistakes will be a part of the game tonight, and you just want to manage those."
The Hurricanes, aiming for a defense of their second tournament title from a year ago, will ice a balanced and talented bunch, backstopped by Callum Booth in net.
"Speed and skill are important," Vellucci said. "We've got size, which is great. We're going to get in on the forecheck and be aggressive to make sure we're playing in their end most of the night."
Anchoring the first line is center Nicolas Roy, who will begin his first professional season this year. He's flanked by Spencer Smallman and Andrew Poturalski, who has two games of NHL experience to his name.
"It's a pretty quick tournament. You need to pick up the pace in the first game," said Roy, who is competing in his third prospects tournament. "It's a hard, physical game, and we'll be ready for it."
Video: Nicolas Roy: "We need to pick up the pace"
"You notice the maturity mentally and physically. He's gotten a lot stronger and faster and has worked on his skating all summer long and over the past three years," Vellucci said of Roy. "He's just a real good person and kid. He thinks the game really well. On the power play, he just makes some nice little plays. You have to be very smart to make those plays."
The Canes' 2017 first-round draft pick Martin Necas centers the second line with Warren Foegele and tournament invitee Nick Shilkey alongside.
"All three of them are skilled," Vellucci said. "Foegs is a big boy who really works hard and is coming off the MVP award. I think he stirs the drink. He's the guy who gets in on the forecheck. He's always hunting down the puck, and he'll make some room for the other guys who are pure snipers."
The team defense is led by tournament veterans Fleury and Josh Wesley.
"We haven't played together a lot, so the more you talk, the easier you make it on each other. That will be a big key tonight," Fleury said. "Keep it simple, let the game come to us and don't make it too hard on ourselves."
Video: Haydn Fleury: "Got to run the table"
After finishing 4-0 last year en route to the team's first tournament title since 2009, the Hurricanes are well aware how vital game one can be.
"It's huge. There's no semifinal here, so you basically have to run the table if you want to win," Fleury said. "We want to come out with a good start tonight."
"It's really exciting," Roy said. "I can't wait for tonight and for the season to start."
The Canes' tournament-opening game will be available to stream live through the FOX Sports GO app, which will have live streaming coverage of all NHL Prospects Tournament games and Hurricanes hockey throughout the 2017-18 season. We'll also be rinkside at Centre Ice Arena to bring you live game updates tonight and throughout the tournament.
Scratches: Hollowell, Boka, Thilander