Canes set for Fort Bragg visit

Posted by Chip Alexander on February 21, 2014 

The Canes pushed up practice an hour Friday, starting at 10 a.m. Something about wanting to see an Olympic hockey game at noon.

A few hours later, the game over, some of the Canes were happier than others -- players such as Eric and Jordan Staal, and not so much guys like Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles. Canada beat the U.S. 1-0 in the semifinals in Sochi, moving on to the gold-medal game against Sweden on Sunday.

Canes coach Kirk Muller, who predicted a Canadian victory, said Friday that defenseman Andrej Sekera had returned from Sochi. Sekera, who competed for Slovakia, was not at practice Friday but should accompany the Canes on their visit Saturday to Fort Bragg.

The Canes hoped to get to Fort Bragg during the 2013 preseason training camp, but the NHL lockout ended those plans. But Muller said he liked the idea and wanted to pursue it again.

"It's just a great opportunity to show our support to the military … to go down there and have a practice and kind of build a relationship with them and show how important they are," Muller said. "We'll have a fun practice. It probably will be a little bit of a showcase (and) have a little bit of entertainment value to it."

Following the practice at Cleland Ice Rink, Muller said the team will have lunch with the military personnel and have time to interact with them.

"They say they have a couple of little surprises for us, so we'll see what we're up for," Muller said, smiling.

The Canes won't be climbing rope towers or jumping out of airplanes. But it should be different and should be fun.

"Should be kind of a cool day for everybody," Muller said.

The Canes' practice Friday at Raleigh Center Ice was a little lighter than Thursday's workout. Without forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Alex Semin available, the Canes' makeshift lines had Eric Staal centering Jiri Tlusty and Elias Lindholm; Jordan Staal at center with Nathan Gerbe and Pat Dwyer; and Riley Nash centering Jeff Skinner and Radek Dvorak, with Manny Malhotra and Drayson Bowman alternating in.

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