Henrique skates again, Lipsbergs surprises many and the Checkers and Screaming Eagles raise money for charities

Adam Henrique prepares to take a faceoff in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

Adam Henrique prepares to take a faceoff in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

Adam Henrique skated this morning for the first time since November when he had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb as Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com reports. Though there is still some time before Henrique makes it back to the lineup, this is still positive news for the 22-year-old center. From Morreale:

Devils coach Peter DeBoer doesn’t expect Henrique to make the trip with the team to Montreal (Sunday) and Boston (Tuesday). The 2012 Calder Trophy finalist said he’s still not shooting at full strength, something he’ll need to do before participating in a regular-season contest.

Henrique said he’s not going to pinpoint a certain game on the schedule to make his return; rather, he’ll take it day by day.

“I need to get the strength in there for shooting and handling the puck on the ice,” he said. “It’s different from going to skating with no pucks to handling the puck and then getting back to practice with the guys. We’re on the right track and on schedule to where we’ve expected things to be.”

Henrique endeared himself to Devils fans last season after recording 16 goals, 35 assists, 51 points and a plus-8 with just seven PIM last season, earning a Calder Trophy nomination for best rookie. He upped him game even further in the playoffs, scoring several huge goals including two overtime, series-clinching goals; one against the Florida Panthers in Round 1 and the other against the New York Rangers to send the Devils to the Stanley Cup final.

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As Scott Sepich of Yahoo! Sports Canada reports, the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western League must be ecstatic over Roberts Lipsbergs, the Latvian native who was drafted with the 60th and final pick of the CHL Import Draft and is leading the league in goals and is second among rookies in points. He has 19 goals and 36 points in 41 games and is helping the rebuilding Thunderbirds get back to respectability after a three-year absence from the playoffs.

Like many European skaters, it took a little bit of time for Lipsbergs to get used to the smaller ice surface, but has become very comfortable on North American ice. From Sepich:

After scoring just twice in his first 19 games and looking like he may be just a marginal contributor, Lipsbergs caught fire and netted 15 goals in a 15 game stretch before heading off to Ufa for the world junior championship.

“Nothing changed that much for me,” Lipsbergs said before he left for the WJC. “My linemates and I started to play better together and I started to get a little bit lucky.”

Lipsbergs admitted it took him about 10 games to get used to the pace of the CHL game, as well as to adjust to the smaller ice and physicality.

“I like that it’s smaller and faster,” he said. “I expected it, but it still took time. Once I got a couple of goals, everything just got better.”

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The American League’s Charlotte Checkers will be hosting their first-ever ‘Old-Time Hockey Weekend’ in mid-March which will include a screening of hockey’s greatest movie, Slap Shot, and an appearance by Jeff and Steve Carlson and David Hanson who played the infamous Hanson brothers in the film. The actors will provide live commentary on the movie and take part in a question-and-answer session at the end.

They will also wear retro jerseys for both games during the weekend, all of which will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation.

Tickets for the weekend are available for $20 for season ticket holders and $25 for the genreral public. More prizes and information for the weekend will be announced at gocheckers.com.

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The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior League are teaming up with Boston Pizza in an effort to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Members of the team will be serving tables at the Boston Pizza in Sydney, Nova Scotia on Monday, January 28 from 5:30 to 7:30.

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Signings and trades

The Dallas Stars have finally come to terms with UFA Jamie Benn on a five-year, $26.25 million deal. Benn, drafted 129th overall in 2007, has 70 goals and 90 assists for 160 points to go along with 152 PIM and a plus-9 rating in 222 career games.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed another familiar face as they agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract with UFA Mike Knuble. The 40-year-old winger spent four seasons in Philadelphia from 2005-06 to ’08-09, recording 114 goals and 107 assists for 221 points with 270 PIM and a plus-29 rating in 310 games. In his career he has 274 goals, 266 points and 540 points with 621 PIM and a plus-80 in 1,040 games.

The Stars traded a conditional 7th Round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Carl Sneep.

Meanwhile the New York Rangers acquired center Benn Ferriero from the Penguins for right wing Chad Kolarik.

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