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Tracking the Storm

Sekera, Semin Return to Raleigh

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 2:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Sekera, Semin Return to Raleigh
After completing the sojourn from Sochi back to Raleigh, Olympians Andrej Sekera and Alexander Semin returned to practice on Sunday.
After completing the sojourn from Sochi back to Raleigh, Olympians Andrej Sekera and Alexander Semin returned to Carolina Hurricanes practice on Sunday.

Michael Smith
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“We gave them a good skate, and they didn’t complain,” head coach Kirk Muller joked. “Reggie got back a couple days earlier. He’s fine and ready. Sems was fine today. He got a good skate in.”

Both returned from the two-week international tournament a bit lighter than they would have liked; Sekera and the Slovakian national team were eliminated by the Czech Republic in the qualification round, while Semin and the host country fell to the eventual bronze medal-winning Finnish national team in the quarterfinals, a stinging defeat on home soil.

“I think we played good. We had a good team, but things just didn’t go our way,” Sekera said. “Those are unfortunate situations in a short tournament like this. We battled, but it wasn’t good enough.”

In four tournament games, Sekera averaged just over 24 minutes of ice time, had seven shots on goal and was a minus-1 (on a team that had a minus-11 goal differential). In five Olympic games, Semin averaged 15:35 of ice time and recorded an assist, 10 shots on goal and a plus-2 rating.

“It’s unfortunate that we only had a couple practices before jumping into games, but I think we got better as the tournament went on,” Sekera said. “But it wasn’t good enough.”

Away from the ice, Sekera, a two-time Olympian, did his best to digest the environment, from the village to the different sporting events to mingling with teammates and other athletes.

“This was very nice,” Sekera, who participated in the 2010 Vancouver games, said of Sochi. “Before the Olympic village and all the facilities, there was nothing. Just green, trees and stuff like that. They built a lot of stuff in a short period of time, and it was really, really nice.”

Sekera had the opportunity to spectate speed skating and biathlon events.

“It was interesting to see the other village up in the mountains, the resort and everything,” he said. “It was gorgeous. I had never seen anything like it.”

One of the 38 non-hockey Slovakian Olympians in Sochi, Anastasiya Kuzmina captured the gold medal in the women’s biathlon sprint on Feb. 9, the day Sekera and his Canes teammates left North America for Russia.

“Guys went to cheer her on when she won the gold,” he said. “That was the day before we go there, but they said it was unreal.”

Defensive partners at times during the tournament, Sekera was also roommates with 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara – and yes, the pictures are accurate: Chara’s bed required an extension to contain his towering frame.

“I could have even given him a quarter of my bed,” Sekera joked. “I’m a small guy.”

Sekera said he also got to mingle with Canes teammates Justin Faulk, Tuomo Ruutu and Semin in Sochi.

“I saw them, and we talked a little bit. They were enjoying the tournament, the environment and the experience,” he said. “We usually met in the cafeteria. We chit-chatted a little bit.”

With the Olympic flame now extinguished, focus turns to the Canes’ final 25 games of the season and the playoff push ahead.

“I’ll try to do my best. I’ll try to focus on the game and set myself back on a regular [schedule] – food, sleep and practice. Stuff like that,” Sekera said. “I don’t think it will be a problem.”

With half of the team’s Olympians already back in town, Muller said Ruutu, with a bronze medal in tow, is due back in Raleigh on Monday. Meanwhile, Faulk will meet the team in Buffalo on Tuesday. Muller said he’d leave the decision with Ruutu on whether he practices Monday before departing for the season-long, five-game road trip.

“It would probably be good to give him a rest, but sometimes when you fly over, you need a little sweat,” Muller said.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62