Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier signed their first NHL contracts, then almost immediately took to the ice for Team Red in Saturday’s prospect development camp-culminating scrimmage.
Bean and Gauthier, the Carolina Hurricanes’ two first-round picks in last month’s NHL Draft, each inked three-year, entry-level deals in front of fans at the Hurricanes’ Summerfest event, following in the tradition set by Noah Hanifin at the same event last year.
“It was pretty cool. It’s one less thing in the way of pretty much everyone’s dream,” Bean said.
Less than an hour later, Bean and Gauthier participated in the scrimmage – composed of one 15-minute period of 4-on-4 hockey, a second period of 3-on-3 play and then a shootout – which Team White won, 6-3.
Gauthier opened the scoring with a pinpoint wrist shot into the top right corner of the net early in the second period, exciting fans packing one side of the lower bowl at PNC Arena. It was one of several highlights from the afternoon – goaltenders Callum Booth and Alex Nedeljkovic also each made diving saves to deny seemingly certain goals.
“The pace that we play at now, even in development camp, as compared to two years ago is noticeably different,” said coach Bill Peters after the scrimmage. “The size of our players is noticeably bigger…but they still skate and they haven’t given up skill.”
The camp’s four goalies controlled the majority of play, keeping the scoreboard empty through the 4-on-4 period and stopping a number of 2-on-1 breaks during the second frame.
Booth attributed the strong performance of the goaltending unit to a week of constructive workouts with Hurricanes goalie coach David Marcoux and former NHL star Curtis Joseph, recently hired by Carolina as a goaltending consultant.
“With Mr. Marcoux, there’s a lot of playing the puck, a lot of post work – that’s what we worked on this week,” Booth said. “And getting all the stories from (Joseph) about what he would’ve done differently when he was young, I think it’s all amazing information.”
The two teams tied, 2-2, through the end of 3-on-3 play before a barrage of shootout goals lifted Team White to victory.
A beautiful move by Raleigh native and camp invitee Josh Wilkins, who pulled the puck through his legs before sliding it between Nedeljkovic’s pads, stood out as the highlight-reel play of the shootout.
“I just thought I’d try it, and it worked out,” Wilkins said. “Usually I’m the one in the stands watching these guys play, so it was pretty cool to be out there for the first time.”
And did he think Nedeljkovic saw it coming? “Probably not,” he added with a smile.