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Notes: Wings gear up for prospect tournament title game versus Stars

Hirose talks number change; 11th annual Hockeytown Cares Community Tour rolls on

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

TRAVERSE CITY -- It is not unusual for the Detroit Red Wings to play in the championship game at the NHL Prospect Tournament.

What is unusual is that they have won the event just once, in 2013.

When the Wings prospects take on the Dallas Stars prospects at Centre Ice Arena Tuesday evening, it will mark the fifth time in the last seven years that Detroit has made the title game.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Championship Tuesday! The #RedWings and Stars are set to battle for the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup. #DRWPT🏒: #DALvsDET🕡: Coverage starts at 4:30 PM💻: at detroitredwings📍: @CentreICEArena#LGRW pic.twitter.com/KVQSdRsWUK

They also played in it in 2013, 2015, 2016 and last year.

"It means a lot," Joe Veleno said after Monday's 7-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I think that's what our main goal here was, to play in the championship game. I think we deserved it. I don't think we had the best start (Monday) but we found a way to get it done and I think that's what's important."

Veleno was a big factor in the Wings reaching the game last year and that continued this year with a lot more experience under his belt.

Veleno had two power-play goals in each of the first two games and then added an empty-net goal against Toronto. He leads the tournament with five goals.

Coming on strong is Chase Pearson, the Wings' fifth-round pick, 140th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Pearson had a hat trick plus an assist in the Toronto game and leads the tournament in points with six. He is tied for second in goals with four.

"Any offensive game is a big confidence boost but I think there's still stuff to work on," Pearson said after the game. "Anytime I can contribute offensively, it's a good night for me."

Filip Zadina is also among the scoring leaders as he is tops in assists with five.

"Obviously, I think the most important thing for me and the team is the win right now," Zadina said Monday morning before playing Toronto. "It was a huge win for us the other night. I think at some point the goals will come. I just want to play a good game and have fun with the boys."

Although known as a goal scorer, Zadina has a more complete game than that, which he looks to play when the puck is not going in the net.

"To be honest, it's part of the hockey," Zadina said. "Sometimes you just can't score. Otherwise, you're just passing and creating chances for the other linemates. It's not that bad that I am not scoring. At least we have someone else who is scoring the goals. It's probably the best for our team that each player can score the goals."

That secondary scoring is certainly something the Wings needed against the Leafs and will likely need again against the Stars.

"Joey, Zadina and Taro (Hirose) kind of led the way in the first few games. I think we needed a couple of guys to step up," Pearson said. "I think Smitty (Givani Smith) played well. (Jarid) Lukosevicius played very well. We had guys step up that needed to. It was good."

Detroit coach Ben Simon, the Grand Rapids Griffins head coach, said everyone wants to finish off the tournament with a win.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: ���We didn���t come here to lose.��� #RedWings, Stars 5:00p for the 🛳. #DRWPT #LGRW pic.twitter.com/hMzLtnRez7

"It's just a good confidence booster going into camp," Simon said. "Obviously, the Red Wings have come up here for many years and it's a big tournament for the organization. They love coming up here, we love coming up here as a staff, the players love coming up here, so it means a lot to the organization. That's not something we take lightly."

TIRED DEFENSEMEN: Defenseman Alec Regula left the game at 7:50 of the first period after a big hit from Giorgio Estephan so the Red Wings were left with five defensemen. Regula did not return.

That meant extra work for Moritz Seider, Gustav Lindstrom, Gustav Berglund, Charle-Edouard D'Astous and Alec McCrea.

While there was no update on Regula after the game, he will not play in the championship game.

Marc-Olivier Duquette and Owen Lalonde did not play Monday and it is Lalonde who will get the nod.

Seider had already been playing a lot but Lindstrom was elevated to the top pair in Regula's absence.

"He's been good, he's been a pleasant surprise," Simon said. "We talk about the players getting better progressively every game and I thought a lot of guys did. He's one of those guys I group in that category where you don't really know too much about him. You learn a little bit after one game, couple tendencies, and now after three games you kind of know who he is a little bit and I thought he's progressed nicely in the last week."

This is Lindstrom's first prospect tournament.

With Frölunda last year in the Swedish League, Lindstrom did nothing but win and would love for that to continue in North America.

"We have a really good feeling after winning this game, it was like a semi-final, so, it was really fun to win this game and really looking forward to (Tuesday)," Lindstrom said. "We have a great team here, hopefully we can win."

NEW NUMBER FOR HIROSE: When Hirose debuted last year with the Red Wings after signing as a free agent out of Michigan State, he wore number 53.

Starting in development camp, Hirose changed to number 67.

"They asked me if I wanted to change and 17 was taken and I probably hadn't worn 17 in 8-9 years," Hirose said before the Toronto game. "Limited selection and I just wanted something with 7 in it and that happened to be one of the choices."

When told that Gordie Howe's original number with the Wings was 17, Hirose was surprised.

"I didn't know that," Hirose said. "But Fil Hronek's got it. I talked to him about it and he said he's keeping it for the season. I was disappointed when he said that."

Although he said there's no real emotional attachment to 67 -- yet -- it was the option Hirose picked.

"I thought of a couple different things, 89 adds up to 17," Hirose said. "I asked around about what I should pick and 67 just seemed like a solid number."

Hirose has a goal and two assists in three games and has overall been pleased with his play.

"So far I've been feeling pretty good out there, adjusting to the speed of the game and the hectic game play that's out there," Hirose said. "Guys are sticking to systems and there's a lot of odd-man rushes out there but I think I try not to take too many chances and play a game style that will be fitting to the NHL because I know in the next couple weeks that's hopefully what we'll be playing like in the preseason. Definitely need to shoot the puck a little more, keep the goalie honest. For the most part I feel pretty good about the way I've been playing."

LINEUP: Here is the Red Wings' lineup for Tuesday's championship game:

Hirose-Veleno-Lukosevicius

Smith-Pearson-Zadina

Troy Loggins-Gregor MacLeod-Ryan Kuffner

Thomas Casey-Elmer Söderblom-Owen Robinson

Berglund-Seider

Lalonde-Lindstrom

D'Astous-McCrea

Romeo

Kaden Fulcher

COMMUNITY TOUR: Before Monday night's game, the Red Wings welcomed more than 50 patients, survivors and volunteers from the Traverse City American Cancer Society as part of the Hockeytown Cares Community Tour, presented by ITC Holdings Corp.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: More than 50 patients, survivors and volunteers from the Traverse City @AmericanCancer Society are on hand at tonight���s game! #HockeytownCares | @ITCGrid pic.twitter.com/AKmxY6taj9

The Wings presented a $3,500 donation to the American Cancer Society to support the Road to Recovery program, which provides transportation to and from treatments for cancer patients.

On Tuesday, some members of the Wings made stops in Bay City to hand out candy.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Time for some candy 🍭🍬@Dylanlarkin39, @AndreasA86, @antomantha8 & @tylerbertuzzi are serving it up at St. Laurent Brothers in Bay City, MI. #hockeytowncares pic.twitter.com/cpm3b8yUOa

And they also visited the Flint Fire Department.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: A little Fire House 4v4. #HockeytownCares pic.twitter.com/5kPQUlIRxB

Red Wings training camp starts Friday in Traverse City and the players are working their way up while making stops on their 11th annual Hockeytown Cares Community Tour.

Art Regner contributed to this report.

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