RALEIGH, N.C. — Patrick Wiercioch wasn’t afraid to admit it before the puck dropped Tuesday.
He was nervous.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Wiercioch, 20, said before his NHL debut.
“I’m sure once the game gets going it will kind of play itself out, but just the hours leading up to it is the worst part.”
His parents Andrew and Ewe Wiercioch were trying to make the trek from Maple Ridge, B.C., to see him play. They couldn’t get a flight out of Vancouver, tried going out of Seattle and never made it.
After getting off the bus in Binghamton Sunday, coach Kurt Kleinendorst pulled Wiercioch aside to give him the news. GM Bryan Murray and assistant GM Tim Murray want to see where he stands.
“I was a little bit shocked (to get the call),” said Wiercioch, who was on the ice for Chad Larose’s goal in the first that tied the game 2-2. “We just got done playing four (games) in five (days) and I thought he was maybe just asking me to come in early Monday to watch some video.”
A second-round draft pick in 2008, Wiercioch left Denver University last summer to sign with the Senators. He has 16 points in 63 games with the Baby Sens, and was a healthy scratch in the early part of the season.
“He’s really come on in the last six weeks from the discussions I’ve had with Kurt Kleinendorst,” said Bryan Murray. “He deserves the chance so we’re going to give it to him to see where he’s at for next year.”
Wiercioch concedes turning pro has been an adjustment.
“I’m excited to be up here and get experience,” said Wiercioch. “The year hasn’t been as flashy as I would have liked, but every step, no matter how big or small, has kind of led me to getting here.
“I’m proud of that. Hopefully, I can keep going. It’s challenging when you leave and you step up to a higher level and play guys who are older. You’ve got to make an adjustment. That adjustment isn’t one week or two weeks, sometimes it takes a few months.”
Wiercioch is the seventh player to make his NHL debut this season in an Ottawa jersey. The others: Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Jim O’Brien, Robin Lehner, Andre Benoit and Roman Wick.
“We’re kind of getting used to that,” said coach Cory Clouston. “We have high aspirations for him in the future and he’s going to be a big part of the team.
Wiercioch said he never felt any frustration watching other players get the call up to the NHL.
“Being in the locker room with those guys down there, I was just proud to see those guys go up,” said Wiercioch.
“I didn’t think it was a matter of time for me or anything,” he said. “I was just hoping to get a call up.”
MAKING HIS PICK
If Eric Staal could cast a ballot for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie-of-the-year, he wouldn’t have to look very far to find his choice. All he’d have to do is turn to his left.
That’s where 18-year-old Jeff Skinner is sitting in the Carolina Hurricanes’ dressing room and he’s having a remarkable year, with 25 goals and 27 assists for 52 points in 72 games going into Tuesday’s visit by Ottawa.
“Now that I’ve seen the way he competes night in, night out, and the way he’s played all season I’m not surprised,” said Staal.
“He’s a competitive kid with a great talent. I think he’s well deserving to win that award. I’m impressed with how well he’s done,” Staal said. “It’s a huge jump. He’s a talented kid and talented guys find a way. He’s adjusted.”
THINGS I THINK I THINK
Newly-signed G Craig Anderson should be ready to play Thursday against the Rangers. The Senators wanted to give him one more day rest before putting him back in net. LW Milan Michalek was the only player on the ice early Tuesday and he should return from a broken foot as well at MSG ... Veteran D Filip Kuba took a dumb interference penalty in the first period with Ottawa on the power play at 18:51. He has to know better ... Great scene: The fans partying in the parking lot outside the RBC Center. The suds were flowing and that’s something you’d never see in Canada ... RW Chris Neil had an ‘A’ on his jersey with D Sergei Gonchar out with a concussion. Neil certainly deserves the letter ... Ottawa C Jason Spezza on the suspension to Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke: “The playoff games are really going to hurt. That’s what we play for.” ... Pretty good pass by RW Bobby Butler to set up Spezza on a breakaway that resulted in Colin Greening’s opening goal at 7:56 ... Yes, Marek Svatos does exist. He got his first point in his 13th game with Ottawa with a goal at 13:40 of the first ... Why was the Sens’ theme song playing in the second period at the RBC?
“Now, they’re playing for next year. They’ve kind of mourned their season already, made their trades at the deadline and now there’s lots of excitement.” — Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice on the Senators.