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Young Stars Preview: Jets vs. Flames

by Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007) / Winnipeg Jets

TV: JetsTV (
PUCK DROP: 6:00pm CT


PENTICTON, BC -- Tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames will be a memorable one for 2015 draft picks Jansen Harkins and Matteo Gennaro.
When the puck drops at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, BC, Harkins and Gennaro will be playing their first games in a Winnipeg Jets jersey.
“It’s exciting. Obviously a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” Harkins said following today’s morning skate. “As a kid growing up you always dream of wearing an NHL jersey. I’m finally getting to wear one tonight and hopefully have a good game.”
Gennaro, who had 31 points with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2014-2015 before being drafted in the seventh round by the Jets, calls it a “special feeling” to know he’s in the lineup tonight. But he also doesn’t want to put any extra pressure on himself.
“I just want to play my game. I don’t want to do too much and be a player I’m not,” the forward said. “I’m just going to focus on playing my game, enjoying the moment, the crowd, the atmosphere, and playing for the Jets.”
This is the fourth year that the Jets have participated in the tournament, which features prospects from the Jets, Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers.
Coach Keith McCambridge says he plans to get every player power-play or penalty kill time throughout this year’s tournament, depending on individual strengths.
“Whether it’s exhibition or regular season, I want to make sure that every player is giving and showing his full potential to management, showing exactly what he can add on the ice,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re pushing these players and getting a true read on where they are in
their careers.”
He has plenty of firepower to work with, including a line that features Nic Petan between Nikolaj Ehlers and Brendan Lemieux. Those three alone had 249 points total in the 2014-2015 campaign.
“There’s an excitement there, but you’re also very aware there are 29 other teams that are excited about their draft picks,” McCambridge said. “It’s, for us, taking the right steps and making sure we’re not pushing them along too quick. Realizing they’re very young players and this process takes
some time.”
That patience is paying off. Look no further than the three players who will wear an ‘A’ on their jerseys as assistant captains this weekend: Josh Morrissey, Scott Kosmachuk and Ryan Olsen.
“You have three players that have pro experience under their belt. Obviously I saw Josh Morrissey at length at the Calder Cup when we went to the finals, so I know what he represents,” McCambridge said. “To be honest, there are lots of other good leaders in that room that have been leaders on their teams coming into this tournament. It’s based on experience and those players have those strong leadership qualities.”
In goal, Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie will split tonight’s game, with Hellebuyck playing the first half. Puck drop is at 6:00pm CT, and fans can watch the action live at
Lemieux - Petan - Ehlers
De Leo - Copp - Kosmachuk
Blomqvist - Olsen - Lodge
Gennaro - Harkins - Spacek
O’Donnell — Fronk
Morrissey - Nogier
Stoykewych - Kostalek
Harstad - Karlstrom

-- Mitchell Clinton,

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