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Avalanche forward Hishon to debut in Game 4

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Joey Hishon will make his NHL debut in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS2, ALT, FS-N, FS-WI).

Hishon, Colorado's first-round pick (No. 17) in the 2010 NHL Draft, was skating with the team's American Hockey League affiliate on Tuesday in Cleveland. He got a call afterward that he had been recalled.

"Can't even explain the emotion," Hishon said Wednesday. "Very anxious, very excited, I'm just happy to be here."

Hishon's road to the NHL has been longer than most expected after he scored 255 points in 214 games in the Ontario Hockey League. But he sustained a severe concussion during the 2011 Memorial Cup while with the Owen Sound Attack and missed the 2011-12 season with post-concussion syndrome. He returned to the ice in March 2013 with the Lake Erie Monsters and sustained another concussion but was able to return this season, when he played 50 games and scored 10 goals and 24 points.

The 22-year old will have the rare, but not unprecedented, opportunity to make his NHL debut during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Colorado leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"It isn't going to be easy for him, but remember a guy by the name of Claude Lemieux? He made his debut in the playoffs and it went pretty well," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "This is an opportunity for him. Joey's dream is to play in the NHL someday and here it is."

Hishon will play on the fourth line between Brad Malone and Patrick Bordeleau and is expected to play along the walls on the Avalanche's revamped and simplified power play.

"Patrick pulled me aside before practice and said, 'Don't ease into it, just play and be confident, work hard and everything will be all right,'" Hishon said. "That's what I'm trying to do, I'm just trying to play my game and not change anything from when I played juniors or this season in the AHL."

With defenseman Tyson Barrie sidelined for up to six weeks with a left MCL injury, Colorado moved forward PA Parenteau to Barrie's point position on the power play.

"That's where we had a chance to win [Game 3, a 1-0 overtime loss]," Parenteau said. "They played really good 5-on-5 and we had a few opportunities to get on the power play and score goals. I think that's where we lost the game."

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