Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets' Rookies Ready for NHL Debut When They Open Season in Boston

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets' Rookies Ready for NHL Debut When They Open Season in Boston

Article excerpt

Jets' youngsters ready to make NHL debut

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WINNIPEG - There will be at least five Nicolas Petan fans in the stands when the Winnipeg Jets open the season in Boston on Thursday.

The Jets rookie forward said his parents, brother, uncle and trainer are travelling to watch his first NHL game and he couldn't be happier to share the special moment with them.

"It's an awesome time, not just for myself, but for them as well," the Delta, B.C., native said Wednesday after the Jets practised in Winnipeg before boarding a flight to take on the Bruins.

"And not just my immediate family, it's for everyone that's around me. It's just an awesome feeling."

Winnipeg kicks off the regular season with a four-game road trip, including games against New Jersey, the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.

Petan, 20, is one of three rookies who've cracked the Jets' roster, which features six players aged 22 and under.

Forward Nikolaj Ehlers, 19, is the team's youngest player and will also make his NHL debut against Boston. Rookie centre Andrew Copp, 21, recorded his first game in last season's final regular-season match versus Calgary and picked up an assist.

Ehlers won't have family cheering him on in person Thursday as his dad, Heinz, is head coach of Lausanne HC, a national A team in Switzerland.

The Denmark native talked to his dad after he made the roster and his parents might watch his debut on satellite TV, depending on the time, said Winnipeg's first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2014 draft.

"He's proud," Ehlers said of his father, who played pro in Europe for more than 20 years. "He texted me and called me and said congratulations. It's pretty exciting to them."

Some hockey pundits have questioned if the injection of more youth will add to the challenge of Winnipeg making the playoffs like it did last season, when the team set a Jets/Atlanta Thrashers' franchise record with 99 points and tied a franchise record for wins (43-26-13). …

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