October 9, 2015


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Jets' Chiarot taken to school by Blackhawks in first big-league game

The toughest assignment of the day probably belonged to Winnipeg Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot.

The third-year pro from Hamilton, just 22, played his first NHL game Saturday, pressed into service against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ben Chiarot


Ben Chiarot

It didn't go so well no matter what your angle of observation.

The Hawks won 5-1 and Chiarot was minus-three from 15 shifts and 10 minutes 47 seconds of ice time.

Still, a first game is a first game and it's something.

"It's obviously exciting," Chiarot said after the outing. "It's every young guy in Canada's dream of playing on Hockey Night in Canada against the Stanley Cup champs. You can't get a much better stage than that."

Chiarot has 88 games worth of AHL experience under his belt with the St. John's IceCaps. Having made strides in his game later last season and early this was one factor in his recall.

But in the end Saturday, the Jets were no match for the Blackhawks in this one.

"Chicago's obviously a very skilled team and for my first game, you've never really seen a team move the puck like that," Chiarot said. "It was pretty impressive.

"There was probably a lot of breakdowns there."

The fourth-round Atlanta pick from 2009 revisited that quickness issue several times.

"Their top line's obviously pretty impressive," he said. "That's one of the best lines in the league, right? That was pretty impressive at first how quickly they move it."

The nerves, Chiarot said, were very present.

"By the second period I got a couple of shifts where I could move my feet a little bit," he said. "Caught up with the speed of the game, how fast it was moving. I felt good after that."

And he'll have plenty of memories about the game, no matter the result.

"Just everything... the crowd was pretty impressive right off, even during warmups it was pretty impressive," he said. "But playing against the Stanley Cup champs on Hockey Night in Canada, you can't get much better than that.

"I wouldn't want it any other way. Why not take on the best first? Obviously I want to adjust to the speed and how quickly the puck moves and how smart the players are at this level. I want to do that as quickly as I can."

MORE SHUFFLING: With Chiarot and Julian Melchiori already on recall from the IceCaps, the Jets moved to the waiver wire Saturday to further shore up their injured defence corps.

The team claimed Keaton Ellerby, 24, from the Los Angeles Kings.

Ellerby hadn't played yet this season, in L.A. as a sort of insurance policy in case Willie Mitchell and/or Matt Greene didn't fare so well coming back from serious injuries.

Their health led to Ellerby's attempted demotion to Manchester, when the Jets stepped in.

Ellerby, the 10th overall pick of the 2007 draft by Florida, is expected in Winnipeg today.

Jets defenceman Paul Postma, Jacob Trouba and Mark Stuart remain out for indefinite periods.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 3, 2013 B5

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