DETROIT -- Joe Hicketts made his presence felt in the Detroit Red Wings' 4-2 preseason loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday at Little Caesars Arena.
The diminutive defenseman led the Red Wings with five shots on goals and five hits while logging 20:14. He got under the Leafs' skin with a couple of big checks late in regulation, drawing a penalty when James Van Riemsdyk tried to retaliate and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct with 1:09 remaining.
Hicketts will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the next day or two.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill called the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Hicketts "The Little Engine That Could."
"Joe's a good player, Joe's a gamer. He just wants to be an impact every single time he's on the ice," Blashill said. "He doesn't look the part. He's smaller and not a great skater. Most of those guys don't play in the NHL. There's very few of them that are.
"I coached Torey Krug (of the Boston Bruins) in junior. Torey skates a little better but Torey's got similar kind of personality -- he's got tons of moxie, tons of confidence. Torey's a gamer, he wants the puck on his stick when the game's on the line. Physicality, that's what Joe does."
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg also praised Hicketts.
"That's another player who had a really strong preseason," Zetterberg said. "Today, he jumps up in the play, he's strong. He's not the biggest guy out there but he's really strong on his feet. He's tough to play against."
Hicketts will do whatever he can to make it to the NHL one day. He is confident he will succeed.
"I think I can," Hicketts said. "I think I've done everything in my power over the last couple years of junior, last year in the American League and over the summer to prepare myself to get to that next level. Like I said before, I hope it's been enough to keep me here. If not, you go down and you got to do the same thing year after year."
Hicketts is not deterred by his size.
"I've been not necessarily the biggest hitter but I like throwing the body around," Hicketts said. "It's a way that kind of engages me both mentally and physically. If you can give the team a spark, obviously it kind of helped on the power play there for us at the end."