RALEIGH — The Hurricanes started the season with players from five different countries on the roster, ranging as far east as Oulunsalo, Finland, all the way to Spokane, Wash.
Carolina 23-year-olds Jaccob Slavin and Teuvo Teravinen grew up nearly 5,000 miles apart — Slavin in Denver, Teravainen in Helsinki — and now play together in the southeastern U.S. in Raleigh.
It’s not that far-fetched: two men reaching the NHL from opposite sides of the globe is the norm in locker rooms around the league, especially when they come from hockey-playing families.
Teravainen’s younger brother and sister also play. The Slavins — Jaccob and his four siblings — all grew up playing hockey in Colorado.
Eighteen-year-old Josiah, the only forward in the Slavin clan, is playing in the USHL — an American junior hockey league — and was just traded from the Tri-City Storm across Nebraska to the Lincoln Stars on Oct. 4. Eero Teravainen, Teuvo’s 18-year-old brother, is in his second season as a defensemen with the Stars.
“It was a little weird playing against him last year,” Josiah said of skating against Eero. “I always knew his brother was with my brother [in Carolina]. It was weird seeing him on the ice. And then getting traded here, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s even weirder that we’re playing together, too.’”
Just like their big brothers Jaccob and Teuvo in the NHL, they were on opposite sides for a season but now have a common goal.
“He’s enjoying it, and I think they’ve connected a little bit so far, so that’s good,” Jaccob said of Josiah joining Eero on the Stars.
The roles for the Slavins and the Teravainens are flipped in Lincoln. Josiah is the only Slavin sibling to play forward instead of defense — “Joe’s kind of the oddball out there,” Jaccob said — while Eero is a defenseman. Teuvo and their sister, 15-year-old Satu, each play forward.
“I don’t know why I’m D,” Eero said. “I think I was kind of a bigger guy when I was younger. So the coaches put me on defense, so I think that’s it. … I’m the lone wolf.”
Teuvo had a different explanation for why Eero is a defenseman.
“I was always playing outside my house and stuff, so maybe I was the forward and he was playing the D,” Teuvo said. “He’s always been more like a D guy. He likes to play that, and he is still playing like a two-way D, so he likes to play offense, too.
Josiah’s siblings — sister Jordan and brothers Justin, Jaccob and Jeremiah — are all defenseman.
“When I was younger I liked to score goals, and it just kind of stuck,” Josiah said.
He’ll get a chance to do it against his old team Saturday and the following Friday when Lincoln visits Tri-City for two games.
“It’s not too emotional,” Josiah said of playing his old team, channeling Jaccob’s calm demeanor. “I’m close with the guys there, so it’ll be good to see them. But no friends on the ice.”
Josiah and Eero keep tabs on their brothers and the Hurricanes, saying they watched two of the team’s first three games together.
“I saw that big shootout goal,” Eero said of Jaccob’s game-winner in the opener against the Wild.
“He’s been doing that move since he was like 12 years old,” Josiah said of Jaccob’s go-to backhand. “He taught it to me when I was really young. I just can’t do it as well as him.”
Josiah and Eero will head to the NCAA next year, and Eero is actually committed to the University of Denver in the Slavins’ hometown. Josiah could offer some pointers on life in the Mile High City, and perhaps a home-cooked meal?
“That sounds good. I probably should ask him,” Eero said.
Josiah is undecided on where he’ll go to college next year, but “there’s a couple possibilities to go back to Colorado right now,” he said.
Could the duo stick together on the Pioneers — the defending NCAA champions and early-season No. 1 team — next fall?
“Yeah, we could,” Josiah said.
For now, the duo will be together with the Stars, and their big brothers — along with the rest of their families — will be watching.
“We’ll see if there’s a lot of goals made by Slavin and assisted by Teravainen,” Teuvo said.