It all happened in a flash for Phil Di Giuseppe.
Being called up by the Carolina Hurricanes, that is. Not his NHL debut. That took a little longer.
The forward, a second-round draft pick by Carolina in 2012 and the 38th overall pick, is in his second full professional season with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). He got the word Friday that he was being called up by the Canes — his first NHL recall — and quickly was in a car to Raleigh to be at the morning skate Saturday and play against the Montreal Canadiens.
While Di Giuseppe felt he had a productive training camp with the Canes this year, the numbers game did not work in his favor and he again was sent down to the Checkers.
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But Di Giuseppe, 22, has played well in Charlotte under new coach Mark Morris. He’s second among Checkers skaters with 14 points in 20 games.
“He’s been very consistent all year,” Canes coach Bill Peters said Saturday.
With the Canes struggling, the decision was made Friday to recall Di Giuseppe and he will play his first NHL game Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena.
“I just want to show them that I think I’m ready and that I belong here,” Di Giuseppe said. “I had a good summer and worked hard to get here and now I’m here, so I’m trying to prove something.”
Di Giuseppe, who played three years of college hockey at Michigan, said he hoped to use his speed and aggressively take pucks to the net against the Habs. He also said he wanted to be “rubbing the body” and giving the Canes some strong, physical play.
Di Giuseppe, who has been used at center and on the wing in Charlotte, said some “confidence mixed with experience” has made him a better player this year. He said after training camp he returned to the Checkers “with a little chip on my shoulder.”
“I wanted to get back up and prove I belong here,” he said.
Di Giuseppe, a Toronto native, was called up Friday with defenseman Jaccob Slavin and forward Brock McGinn, who made his NHL debut Oct. 16 against Detroit and scored on his first shift.
“He’s just got to come out and play the way he has,” McGinn said. “He’s been very strong in Charlotte and putting up a lot of points. He’s got to come here and play the same way he has there.”
Di Giuseppe will wear No. 34 for the Canes. He said his parents and brother were on their way from Toronto and would be at the game for his debut.
“Playing against the Montreal Canadiens, I’m a Canadian kid, it’s more special,” he said.