Sports

Maple Ridge's Patrick Wiercioch makes Senators to start the NHL season

Maple Ridge’s Patrick Wiercioch is with the Ottawa Senators. -
Maple Ridge’s Patrick Wiercioch is with the Ottawa Senators.
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Maple Ridge pro hockey prospect Patrick Wiercioch started the season in the NHL.

Wiercioch teed up a shot that resulted in the first goal of the season for the Ottawa Senators in their Saturday night season opener against the Winnipeg Jets. The point shot was deflected into the net by Milan Michalek, and the local defenceman got an assist on the play. The Sens went on to beat the Jets 4-1, and Wiercioch had a solid stat line, with the point, a plus-one rating and 17 minutes of ice time.

It was not the first NHL action for Wiercioch, who played eight games and had two points in the 2010-2011 hockey season.

Wiercioch was drafted 42nd overall in 2008. He played minor hockey for the North Shore Winter Club, Junior A with the Burnaby Express and college hockey with the University of Denver.

A year ago he was struck in the throat with a clearing shot while playing with the AHL Binghamton Senators, and the puck broke a bone in the back of his neck. It was considered a potentially career-threatening injury at the time, but Wiercioch came back after seven weeks.

During the off-season he stayed in Ottawa and added muscle to his six-foot-five frame. He came to training camp last week weighing 205 pounds, and was regarded by the Ottawa coaching staff as the player who had made the greatest strides during the lockout-lengthened off-season.

At the start of this young NHL season, much has been written about his childhood friendship to the Senator’s second-line centreman Kyle Turris.

Wiercioch started the hockey season with the Binghamton Senators, racked up 10 goals and nine assists in 32 games, and was playing 25 minutes per game in the top pairing.

• The Nashville Predators sent another Maple Ridge hockey player, Victor Bartley, back to the AHL Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday, and he did not get a chance to open the season in the NHL.

• Brad Hunt, featured last week for his starring role on the blueline for the Chicago Wolves, farm team of the Vancouver Canucks, was named to the AHL all-star game.

The 2013 Dunkin Donuts AHL All-Star Classic takes place Sunday and Monday, Jan. 27 and 28, in Providence, R.I.  Of the 597 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since the event was reinstated in 1995, nearly 93 percent have competed in the NHL.

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