TRAVERSE CITY — Andreas Athanasiou made a big statement about his National Hockey League prospects.
It is the NHL Prospect Tournament after all.
In the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-1 win Thursday at Centre ICE over the Minnesota Wild, Athanasiou scored two goals. That was obvious.
What was less obvious were all the other things he did during the victory — elevating his game from the last time he was here in Traverse City at the team’s Skill Development Camp in July.
“He got the game puck for being the best player,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “And it wasn’t for the two goals — though they were good and he had opportunities to score more. I thought he did everything right. He was great defensively. We talked coming out of development camp that if he wants to be a center, he has to be better defensively — and I thought he was (Thursday). He checked really well and did all the things it takes to be a really complete player. I was impressed with him.”
Athanasiou put Detroit up late in the first period of the team’s tourney opener.
His wrist shot caught goalie Johan Gustafsson by surprise, and Gustafsson didn’t appear to know the puck was in the net until the referee pointed at it.
“They made a nice pass out wide to me, and I just cut in,” Athanasiou said. “I was going to bring it in across the net, and for a quick second I saw short side and kind of just chipped it up there. I was just lucky enough to get it up in that spot.”
Max Nicastro and Zach Nastasiuk drew the assists.
The first period was also highlighted by a pair of fights.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Carter Sandlak faced off 6:41 into the game, and Richard Nedomlel and Kurtis Gabriel exchanged punches in the final minute. Neither was decisive.