Habs’ prospects get taste of their hockey dreams
Scrimmage before a packed house in Brossard on last day of development camp
The Canadiens annual development camp drew to a close Friday and 51 players left with a better idea of where they are and where they must go to realize their dreams of playing in the National Hockey League.
The talent pool was a disparate group, ranging from first-round draft picks and European pros to undrafted tryouts and U.S. college players who will be back on campus in the fall.
Most of them participated in a scrimmage before a packed house in Brossard Friday before they were handed their marching orders for the summer.
The scrimmage was a one-sided affair with the White team jumping to a 3-0 lead in the first period and then cruising to an 8-2 win over the Reds. The scoring stars for the winning team reflected the range of skill levels as Patrick Holland, Charles Hudon and Josiah Didier each scored twice.
This is Holland’s third development camp and he had a taste of the NHL last season. That experience taught him the value of working hard in camp.
“I was called up early in the season and I think they picked me because I had a good camp,” said Holland, who played five games in Montreal. “You always have to work to get better, get stronger.”
Holland has been working on his strength and his foot speed and he’ll get a close look at camp because he’s a right winger and that’s one position where the Canadiens are thin.
Hudon is looking forward to making his mark as a professional after an outstanding junior career, which included playing in the world junior championships. He scored the day’s prettiest goal, roofing a shot off the rush against 2014 draft choice Hayden Hawkey.
“I have to work on my power,” said Hudon, a winger who was at centre between first-round draft choices Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron.
“It’s the first time I’ve played centre and I liked it,” said Hudon, who is the latest in a line of smallish forwards. He’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds but both figures are probably exaggerated.
When Didier was asked about the last time he scored two goals in a game, he replied: “I’ve never done that.”
But the defenceman, who scored only once in 36 games last season at the University of Denver, scored two goals in a four-minute span in the third period and was rewarded with time on a subsequent power play.
The Littleton, Col., native will return to Denver for his senior year. The school had a slow start as the team adjusted to rookie coach Jim Montgomery, a Montreal native who logged some time with the Canadiens after he was acquired in a trade for Guy Carbonneau during the summer of 1994.
“There was a little change in the system and that took some adjustment but I like Monty’s system and I think we’re going to have a good season,” Didier said.
He’s another example of a player who has benefited from his time in college to get bigger and stronger. When the Canadiens drafted him in the third round in 2011, he was 6-foot-2 and 199 pounds; today he’s an inch taller and tips the scales at 220.
Zachary Fucale, who was drafted by the Canadiens in the second round in 2013, shared the goaltending duties for the White team with C.J. Motte, who was here on a tryout from Ferris State University. Fucale gave up a goal to Sven Andrighetto while Michael Szmatula, a tryout from Northeastern University, beat Motte.
The other goals for the White team were scored by Christian Thomas and Jack Nevins, who signed as a free agent in 2013 after the Canadiens noticed his toughness in the QMJHL.
Among the spectators at Friday’s session were former Canadiens and proud fathers Sergio Momesso and Shayne Corson. Momesso’s son, Stefano, who is hoping to attend a U.S. college, might have had a couple of points. A video replay would have shown that his third-period shot went in and out of the net and he provided a linemate with an opportunity at a wide-open net but the shot went wide.
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