Wiercioch gets taste of life in NHL

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. Patrick Wiercioch found himself sitting beside a couple of guys with pretty good hands Friday.

On his right in the Senators dressing room was Alex Kovalev, who has 394 goals in his NHL career.

To his left was defenceman Matt Carkner, who is more known for using his fists to fire up his teammates.

Being in the company of NHLers is a far cry from where Wiercioch was a week ago, when the blueliner signed with Ottawa and ended his career with Denver University.

He likely wont play this season because the Senators dont want to burn a year on his contract, but the 19-year-old was on the ice for practice at Scotiabank Place Friday and will travel with the team on its final road trip of the season to give him a taste of life in the NHL.

Its a little bit surreal that a week ago Im watching YouTube clips of (Kovalev) shooting with one hand against the post, and its pretty unbelievable the stuff the guy can do with his hands. Hes even faster in person, said Wiercioch, who signed with the Senators on Thursday.

I didnt see my name tag (beside Kovalev and Carkner) until (Friday) morning. I didnt know where Id be situated. So its pretty special. The last time I saw (Carkner) play, he knocked out (Colton) Orr in Toronto. Both sets of hands are used for different things.

It didnt take much convincing for the Senators to get the No. 42 overall pick in 2008 to leave school after Denver was eliminated last Friday in the NCAA East Regional by the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Wiercioch said to play in the NHL he needs to improve as a defensive defenceman. Even if thats in the American Hockey League, if thats where I need to develop. You have to be a complete player to play in this locker room.

Alfie staying put

Preparing to play his 1,000th game Tuesday against the Panthers, captain Daniel Alfredsson said Friday he will likely remain in Ottawa once his career is over. The feeling for us now is that well stay here. Obviously theres a lot of factors that come into consideration. Mostly health issues with our parents. If something were to happen in Sweden, we probably would go back. As things are now, were probably not moving anywhere.

Around the boards

The Senators were impressed with RW Bobby Butler in his debut Thursday. I thought he played really hard for us. He showed skill and thats the type of player he is going to be for us, said Senators GM Bryan Murray. Butler signed last Monday out of the University of New Hampshire ... Once the Baby Sens have completed their season, Ottawa will recall RW Jonathan Cheechoo along with a few other players. G Mike Brodeur will likely be in that group.

Philly busters

The Islanders beat the Flyers 6-4 on Thursday, the first time New York has beaten Philadelphia since Feb. 12, 2008. The victory ended a 15-game (0-12-3) losing skid against Philly. Its nice to beat those guys, Isles C John Tavares said. Were a young team, and were playing with a lot of pride. We want to prove we deserve to be here and show the future here is going to be real good.

This n that

With three wins on this trip, Ottawa can finish the season at .500 on the road. The club is 17-20-1 ... Milan Michalek, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, accompanied the Senators on the road trip. He is expected to suit up sometime in the next three games.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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