Jackson Blake makes NHL debut for Carolina Hurricanes – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Jackson Blake said he didn’t have any expectations he would play in the NHL on Tuesday night.

“So fortunate Rod (Brind’Amour) let (me) suit up tonight,” Blake said.

Just 18 days after he played his final college hockey game and six days after signing his first pro contract, Blake got the call to make his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night in Columbus.

It came in Carolina’s final regular-season game.

Blake and former Maine forward Bradly Nadeau both made their debuts, starting with the traditional rookie lap before pregame warmups.

“That was a super cool experience,” Blake said in a TV interview. “You see a lot of other guys who you know do that lap. It’s pretty surreal out there. The first 20 (minutes) were good. I was a little nervous to start, but I’m glad I got it under my belt.”

Blake, wearing No. 53, played 15 minutes, 18 seconds in Carolina’s 6-3 loss.

He registered two shots on goal and a minus-2 rating. Blake played the bumper spot on Carolina’s second power-play unit.

“They did well,” Carolina coach Brind’Amour said of Blake and Nadeau. “You’ve got to give them credit for stepping in. They were impactful. They could have had some goals. Nothing went their way. They had a puck sitting on the goal line. It was one of those nights for those guys, but they were around it, which was great to see.”

Blake became the 111th former UND player to play in the NHL.

He is the first to make his debut since Tyler Kleven did last year with the Ottawa Senators.

Blake is coming off a big sophomore season at UND.

He tallied 60 points in 40 games and was named a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist. The honor went to Boston University’s Macklin Celebrini.

Blake attended the Hobey ceremony Friday in St. Paul. He then rejoined Carolina during the middle of its road trip.

Blake didn’t play in Sunday’s game in Chicago. But the New York Rangers clinched the division title Monday night and Carolina was locked into its playoff spot heading into the regular-season finale.

With that, Carolina rested a couple of its star players and let Blake and Nadeau debut.

Blake’s family made the trip to Columbus and attended the game.

“It’s awesome,” Blake said. “This is truly a dream come true. To have my family here, it makes it that much better.”

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald’s circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at [email protected].

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