The Carolina Hurricanes, celebrating their 25th season in North Carolina in 2022-23, will play their first preseason game Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena.
Question: does anyone remember the first one, 25 years ago?
That preseason game was played Sept. 13, 1997 at the Greensboro Coliseum against the New York Islanders and the Hurricanes won, 4-1.
Paul Maurice, then the Canes coach, decided to go with a veteran heavy lineup that included forwards Keith Primeau, Sami Kapanen and Gary Roberts along with defensemen such as Glen Wesley and Steve Chiasson. Starting in net was goalie Sean Burke.
Kapanen had the distinction of scoring the first NHL goal in North Carolina, albeit in an exhibition game, and it came shorthanded. Wesley had a goal along with forwards Jeff O’Neill and Bates Battaglia, a rookie.
The announced attendance was 6,046, Canes forward Geoff Sanderson calling it a “pretty rambunctious” crowd.
A rambunctious game, too. The News & Observer reported there were seven fights in the game, three involving the Canes’ Stu Grimson, who needed five stitches over an eye.
The two teams had 206 penalty minutes and three game misconducts, the N&O reported.
There was plenty of sports competition that Saturday. Clemson edged N.C. State, 19-17, at Carter-Finley Stadium, North Carolina topped Stanford, 28-17, at Kenan Stadium and East Carolina held off Wake Forest, 25-24, in Greenville.
The Florida Panthers also played the Boston Bruins in an exhibition game in Charlotte, drawing 7,400 fans.
Jim Rutherford, then the Canes president and general manager, said he was pleased with the turnout in Greensboro and praised the fans’ enthusiasm.
“This was real impressive and I’m sure our players appreciated it,” he said to The N&O.
The Canes’ first away preseason game was Sept. 15, 1997, in Bathurst, New Brunswick, in a 3,000-seat arena. The the N&O reported that the team plane landed in Miramichi because the Bathurst airport was too small.
Said Hurricanes defenseman Adam Burt after the landing: “I have no idea where I am on the planet right now.”
The game against the Ottawa Senators was played in a 3,000-seat arena and the Sens won 2-0.
Hurricanes vs Lightning preseason game info
When: Tuesday, Sept. 27
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
Puck drop: 7 p.m.
Watch: Stream via Hurricanes.com