Canes’ Foegele off to strong start
The Carolina Hurricanes had the day off Wednesday, although it’s hard to imagine Warren Foegele kicking back and resting easy.
The rookie forward seemingly has too much pent-up energy for that. It’s as if he wouldn’t be fully content unless he was somewhere skating, starting and stopping, going after the puck.
If there’s a word that best describes Foegele in the Canes’ 3-0-1 start this season, it’s relentless. He’s getting a chance to play and making the most of it, hustling, earning the trust of Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour, meshing well on a line with veterans Jordan Staal and Justin Williams.
Even in the postgame celebration Tuesday, after the Canes’ 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Foegele may have jumped higher than any of his teammates into the glass -- suddenly the Canes’ go-to move after wins at PNC Arena.
“Maybe I’ll go higher next time,” he said, smiling.
For now, Foegele is riding a high and living the dream. There’s no other way to put it.
He has played six NHL games, including two late last season, and has scored five goals in setting franchise history. The 6-2, 190-pound winger is on a line with Staal and Williams, getting plenty of ice time while also capably killing penalties.
“I’m fortunate to have two great linemates that make my job pretty easy,” Foegele said. “They tell me what to do and how to improve and it’s been a lot of fun playing with those two. A couple of times I’m like, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’”
The line combined for nine points Sunday in the Canes’ 8-5 win Sunday over the New York Rangers. Foegele had two goals and an assist, and his first score was timely.
With the Canes trailing 2-0, Foegele was knocked down in the corner but bounced up to take a pass from Williams and score on a shortside scorcher. He set up Staal for a score and picked up his second goal by crowding the crease and getting another nice set-up pass from Williams.
“He’s going after it, he’s going hard,” Brind’Amour said.
Foegele had seven shots against the Canucks, barreling in on the forecheck, helping create scoring chances. His goal came in the third period, with the Canes leading 4-3, as Williams found him open on the right wing and Foegele ripped a top-shelf bullet.
“He’s fun to watch, another tenacious player who’s constantly moving his feet and constantly pressuring the puck,” Staal said. “He’s a big body and holds on to the puck well. He’s got sneaky good hands and good vision.
“He’s just a fun player to play with. He makes it hard on the other team.”
Foegele is drawing more attention from the other teams. Canucks defenseman Derrick Pouliot jolted him a few times during the game and defenseman Alexander Edler put a borderline-dirty high hit on Foegele not long after he scored.
Brind’Amour mentioned that Foegele has been compared to a young Erik Cole, the former Canes forward who was a hard-charging winger.
“It’s a little early to be throwing that around (but) he plays with the passion Erik did, especially when he first got on the scene,” Brind’Amour said. “Now he’s got to keep doing that.”
That’s asking a lot and Brind’Amour said he’d probably hit the rookie “wall” at some point.
Can Foegele keep it up?
“I hope so,” Foegele said. “That’s the plan.”
Foegele, a native of Markham, Ontario, was a third-round draft pick by the Hurricanes in 2014. He spent a year playing college hockey at New Hampshire, where Canes defenseman Brett Pesce was a teammate, before going to the Ontario Hockey League.
Most of last season, his first as a pro, was spent with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, where his mother, Leslie, said he was “chomping at the bit” to be called up to the Hurricanes. He finally got that chance March 26, making his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators at PNC Arena.
“I was so nervous for that pregame skate, more than the game,” he said.
Foegele used that nervous energy well, scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot, and added an assist in being named the game’s first star. In his next game, he scored again at New Jersey. Then, it was back to Charlotte.
“That was huge for my confidence,” Foegele said of the two games, of his first taste of the NHL.
From the start of Canes training camp last month, Foegele went about proving he belonged. When the final roster was set, he was on it, with Brind’Amour saying his strong, assertive play was “what we want in a Hurricane.”
Foegele wore No. 37 last year but willingly gave that up to forward Andrei Svechnikov, the second pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s going with No. 13, the number once worn by former Canes forwards Ray Whitney and Bates Battaglia.
“We’re all having fun and believing in each other,” Foegele said. “I just come to the rink every day and work hard.”
No days off.