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Tracking the Storm

Sekera, Semin Return to Raleigh

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 2:30 PM / 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61