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Hurricanes Prepare to Storm Olympic Ice

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Sami and Keith may be teammates now, but soon they could compete against each other in Nagano.
CARY — The National Hockey League is taking the next two and a half weeks off so the world's best players can compete for their native countries in the Nagano Winter Games. The Carolina Hurricanes have two players who've been chosen to represent their homelands.

Most of the Carolina Hurricanes are taking a two-and-a half week break right now. But two 'Canes who play on the same line have travel plans and tickets to Japan.

"My father called me up and just said whether Lisa goes or not, I'm going," says Carolina center, Keith Primeau. "It's too great of an experience, too much pride involved not to be there to watch. So, it was pretty emotional."

Sami Kapanen is on his wing. Primeau is a big bruiser, a leader and scorer who's tough to move. Kapanen skates on rockets with a lightning-fast shot. He's also a former olympian.

"That was maybe one of the best experiences of my life so far," Kapanen admits. "It's a lot more than just hockey."

Both players know that part of their deal at the Olympics is to sell the NHL with an eye toward Salt Lake City in 2002. But their main mission is to represent their respective countries, Canada and Finland. And of course, there's the issue of winning.

Primeau intends to be in Nagano for a gold medal match, although he won't speculate who the opposition will be.

Both Primeau and Kapanen will stay in the athletes village in Nagano and eat the same kind of food, raw fish.

And if Team Canada and Team Finland win their first and second round games, these two teammates will face off against each other-- the bruiser against the roadrunner-- draped in native colors with their eyes on Gold.


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