Carolina Hurricanes

Defenseman Matt Corrente among Canes fighting to avoid roster cut

calexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 23, 2013 

— Matt Corrente took a puck to the bridge of the nose Monday during the Carolina Hurricanes’ practice, leaving a bloody gash.

Corrente was taken to the treatment room at PNC Arena immediately, but not for long. The team still was on the ice, preparing to take shootout shots. The defenseman got a quick repair and popped back out.

“They wanted to stitch me up, but practice was almost over and I asked if I could go finish it up before heading to the doctor,” Corrente said, smiling. “They put some Vaseline on it to stop the bleeding. A cut on my nose isn’t going to stop me from skating or whatever I need to do to play the game.”

When trying to make an NHL roster, that’s the approach. The Hurricanes have trimmed their training camp roster to 28 players, and soon it will be decision time on who stays with the big team to start the season and who goes down to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.

Corrente, 25, was signed as a free agent during July on a two-way contract with no guarantees. But he still is in camp, battling for a spot.

“Coming into camp there’s great competition,” he said. “It hasn’t changed. Everyone wants to make the team and everyone wants to play in the NHL. That’s all I want in my life, so I’m not going to stop until I get there.”

Corrente isn’t the only one. Defenseman Brett Bellemore wants a roster spot, not a ride to Charlotte. Zac Dalpe, Brett Sutter and Jeremy Welsh are among the forwards competing for spots.

“You can’t let up at all because they’re always watching, always critiquing,” Bellemore said of the coaching staff and management. “For myself I want to push myself to get better and be able to stay on this team.”

Corrente filled up one part of the game sheet Saturday during a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. His number was called often by the referees – five penalties in all for the Missisauga, Ontario, native.

Roughing, fighting major, roughing, interference, interference … Corrente was in the penalty box a lot.

“I play with a lot of aggression,” he said. “It got a little out of hand on Saturday. I feel a couple of calls could have gone either way, (but) I feel good with my physical play.”

For Corrente, it marked two fights in two nights. Friday, he traded blows with Canadiens tough guy Brandon Prust during a 6-0 loss to Montreal.

“I’ve always been a physical, feisty guy,” Corrente said. “Stick up for my teammates, that kind of thing. If someone needs a hand, I’ll be there for sure.”

Corrente got a hand Monday from his teammates when he quickly returned to the ice after the puck to the face. And coach Kirk Muller took notice.

“That’s the kind of guys we want to bring in,” Muller said. “He’s played hard since Day1. He’s gotten two (preseason) games to prove something. He went out, he played hard, he fought.

“He got cut today in practice and comes right back out. He could have just called it a day, if he wanted. That’s what I like.”

Muller noted Corrente also has played some wing during his career. That could add to his potential value on the roster.

Corrente was a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils and the 30th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He played 12 games for the Devils during the 2009-10 season, then 22 the next, before spending the past two seasons with the Albany Devils of the AHL, missing much of last season with a shoulder injury.

The Canes will play their final two exhibitions Thursday at Columbus and Friday at home against the Buffalo Sabres. For players such as Corrente, it’s the time when the stomach starts to churn and the pressure builds leading up to the final roster cuts of camp.

“You can’t let it get in your head because that’s going to throw you off your game,” Corrente said. “Just go out and do what you do every time you get a chance on the ice.”

Note: The six players placed on NHL waivers Sunday by the Canes all cleared waivers and were assigned to the Checkers. They were forwards Zach Boychuk, Aaron Palushaj, Nicolas Blanchard, and Jared Staal; defenseman Michal Jordan, and goaltender Justin Peters.

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter @ice_chip

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