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Surfin' USA

How many hockey players do you know, who when given the opportunity go right from the rink to the beach? Now we all know one! Noah Babin, the Hurricanes' prospect from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, used to go surfing right after hockey practice back in his younger days. The ex-Notre Dame defenseman has done nothing but impress since the Canes signed him last spring. Apparently he has impressed many of you readers as well since he finished as the number one choice in last week's poll question. The question again was, "Which of these Canes' prospects will be the first to play in an NHL game?" Babin finished with 37% of the vote while Brandon Sutter had 25% and Bobby Hughes had 10%. Casey Borer also had 10%. At this point, I happen to agree with the majority of you. While Sutter and Hughes may actually have more skill than Babin, I feel the Canes will be needing a defenseman long before they need a forward this year. With a shaky Bret Hedican on the ice along with a potentially fragile Glen Wesley and a total of only 7 defensemen on the roster, Carolina is very likely going to be needing a call-up to support the blueline, sooner rather than later. Babin seems to be at the top of the defensive depth chart at the moment, but Casey Borer, Jamie McBain, Brett Carson, and Mark Flood all might have something to say about that later at camp. Tough guy, Wade Brookbank could also step into that fill-in role as well. It will all depend upon who has the best training camp and subsequently, who plays the best at Albany. Eventually, it could very well be any of these players, but Babin is the one everyone seems to be talking about right now. Carolina recently posted a story about him. Living in the south, one can't help but root for him since we all can relate. While youth hockey locally has grown by leaps and bounds, once a kid reaches a certain age even here in Raleigh, they have to make tough choices if they want to continue to play elite hockey or move on to the next level. Most of these choices involve moving up north, either to a prep school, juniors team, or a college team. It's extremely tough on families, as anyone can imagine. Good luck Noah, and to the rest of the prospects. We wish you all the best!

I was able to attend the last prospect ice session on Saturday. The kids looked pretty good and the practice was very enjoyable until Nick Dodge got hit in the face with a puck. Fortunately, he was able to leave the ice under his own power, but it was a scary moment. He's one of the college kids who had to pay his own way in order to attend camp. Hopefully he won't have any additional medical or dental expenses on top of everything else! Nick is a forward who will be serving as team captain for Clarkson University again this year. I wonder if Erik Cole, an ex-Clarkson player himself, gave his potential protege' any tips? Cam Ward looked good and was playing in net again, just like he has for all the rookie ice sessions. I only took a couple of pictures while I was there, but I'll go ahead and post them. One is an action shot of Wardo sporting his new pads and mask. The other shows a watchful Pete Friesen, keeping a close eye on the prospects.

The Beach Boys