- After arriving in London, ON late Thursday night for the 2016 Rookie Tournament, the Canadiens’ young guns hit the ice at Budweiser Gardens on Friday morning in preparation for their tournament-opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top youngsters at 3:35 p.m. EST. It is the first of three games in three days the top prospects will play over the weekend.
- The Canadiens will feature a top line of Artturi Lehkonen, Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak up front on Friday afternoon, while Mikhail Sergachev and Noah Juulsen will be the top pairing on the back end. Charlie Lindgren will get the start in goal, while Zachary Fucale will serve as his back up.
- For McCarron, suiting up in London will be particularly special. A former member of the OHL’s London Knights, the 21-year-old forward also makes his offseason home in the Forest City where he does his on-ice workouts at Budweiser Gardens. That makes taking part in the second annual tournament all the more significant for him.
“I miss this place so much. I get to train here in the summer. I skate here in the summertime, too. Every time I’m here, it’s really special. You just think back to when you were a junior player with the Knights. It’s a special town with special people,” shared McCarron, who played 91 regular season games for the Knights during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns, amassing 36 goals and 75 points. “I’ve got family, my billets and a couple of friends that I met when I played for London [coming to the games]. I’m super excited to play in front of this crowd again.”
It’s safe to say current Knights defenseman Victor Mete is feeling exactly the same way. Like McCarron, the 18-year-old Woodbridge, ON native simply can’t wait for the chance to patrol the blue line on very familiar ice.
“Obviously, the main reason [I’ve been looking forward to this] is because I get to put on a Canadiens jersey again in front of the home crowd and home fans,” said Mete, the Canadiens’ fourth-round selection, 100th overall, at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo. “It’s going to be loud and everything. It’ll be just like a London Knights game here. It’ll be a packed house, a full barn, especially against the Leafs [on Saturday night].”
- Daniel Audette comes into the 2016 Rookie Tournament looking to make a strong impression on the Canadiens’ brass over the next few days in Southwestern Ontario. The 2014 draftee says past experience will serve him well this time around as he goes up against some of the finest prospects that the Penguins, Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have to offer.
“I’m coming in with more confidence. I know what to expect. I can play my game and do what I like to do on the ice,” said the 20-year-old centerman, who enjoyed a brief stint with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps last season after wrapping up a four-year QMJHL career in Sherbrooke. “Coming here last year, I put a lot of pressure on myself and things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would. This year, I’m looking to have some fun and show what I’m capable of.”
Probable lineup against Pittsburgh:
Artturi Lehkonen – Michael McCarron – Nikita Scherbak
Jeremiah Addison – Daniel Audette – William Bitten
Michael Pezzetta – Matthew Bradley – Jeremy Gregoire
Giovanni Fiore – Markus Eisenschmid – Petrus Palmu
Mikhail Sergachev – Noah Juulsen
Simon Bourque – Ryan Johnston
Thomas Parisi – Brett Lernout