April 03, 2012 12:08 PM
Another injury has created another opportunity.
With the Checkers’ A.J. Jenks expected to miss Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee, rookie Brody Sutter will make his professional debut. Sutter, cousin of Checkers captain Brett Sutter and Carolina Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter, will start on the team’s fourth line with Sean Dolan and Matthew Pistilli.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Sutter, a 20-year-old who the Hurricanes selected in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. “It’s a dream come true, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
The game will be Sutter’s first since concluding his junior hockey career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on March 17. Since signing an amateur tryout contract with the Checkers a few days later, he’s been practicing and travelling with the team as an extra player while awaiting his opportunity.
“I’ve just been trying to work hard in practice and show them what I can do,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the injuries happened, but I’m looking forward to getting in there.”
Jenks, who suffered an upper-body injury early in the first period of the team’s win over Peoria on Saturday, is considered day-to-day, as is defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti. Nicolas Blanchard, whose own upper-body ailment allowed rookie Justin Shugg to re-enter the lineup last week, is out indefinitely. All three injured players are expected to miss Tuesday’s game.
Though Shugg has made an impact on a scoring line and subsequently the score sheet after two weeks of watching games as a healthy scratch (he has three assists and a shootout goal in three games), coaches will count on the 6-foot-5, 203-pound Sutter to play more of a simple game.
“We want him to be hard to play against, be strong along the boards and be smart,” said coach Jeff Daniels.
In two practices since Jenks’ injury, Daniels could be seen spending extensive one-on-one teaching time with Sutter to prepare him for his debut. Part of that is due to a positional change, as Sutter has played at center for most of his career.
“We went over some systems stuff, but the biggest thing is my board play,” said Sutter. “I haven’t played on the wing since October, so I’m trying to get back into playing on the walls again.”
Even if he’ll start in more of a checking role, that isn’t to say that Sutter, who scored 60 points (30g, 30a) in his final 65 games of junior hockey, will shy away from any scoring opportunities that may arise.
“He did have 30 goals this year in junior, so I’m sure he’ll be looking to shoot the puck,” said Daniels.
“You have to make sure you’re responsible defensively, but you also have to play your game and take chances if they’re there,” said Sutter. “You can’t play scared. If you’re scared of making mistakes, that’s when you make mistakes.”