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And so it begins

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD - It might only be Day 1 of training camp at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, but the intensity on the ice is already in mid-season form. After a few early training sessions on Sunday morning, Team A (Whites) took on Team B (Reds) for an intrasquad scrimmage in front of a packed crowd at the team’s practice facility.

The fans didn’t come away disappointed. While neither team was putting on a goal-scoring clinic, there was still plenty of playmaking and superb goaltending to go around. The Reds were the first on the scoresheet, with Scott Gomez notching his first – albeit unofficial – goal as a Hab. With 18:27 gone in the first period, the shifty center deked his way into the White’s zone before cutting in to beat Carey Price and putting his team on the board.

“It was the kind of goal where you close your eyes and let it go. It was just that kind of day out there today,” admitted the team’s new No. 91, who also happened to notice the encouragement of one particular fan’s demand for a big season from the Alaska native. “I heard him. I thought I was the only one who heard him out there. And hey, I replied with a goal, right?”

The other goal of the day came from sophomore forward Gregory Stewart, off a nice feed from center Glen Metropolit.

At the end of the 40 minute tilt, the game headed into a shootout to decide the outcome. True to form, shootout specialist Maxim Lapierre notched the winner on a nifty move to beat goalie Robert Mayer.

Fans in attendance also got a taste of the gritty play they can expect from the team this season, with no shortage of big bodychecks being thrown on Sunday, most notably by rookie defenseman P.K. Subban.

“I’m the type of guy who plays a physical game and I’m not about to hold back here,” explained the 20-year-old, who delivered bone-crunching hits to Ryan White and Max Pacioretty. “It wasn’t a really physical game. That’s hockey and it’s normal to have contact like that. I went to see Pacioretty after and there was no problem there at all.”

Mike Cammalleri also made his debut with the Canadiens on Sunday, playing alongside Gomez and Andrei Kostitsyn.

“It was great playing with Scott and Andrei. They’re both really good hockey players. Obviously the coaches are going to want to test out different line combinations here.”

Questioned about the standing-room only number of fans who make the trip to Brossard for the scrimmage, the 27-year-old winger was clearly enjoying the atmosphere in his new environment.

“Were there people in the stands? Seriously, it didn’t feel like I was being watched out there at all,” joked Cammalleri. “I think people are really excited about the team and about the season that’s coming and you can feel that energy throughout the entire organization.”

Jaroslav Spacek also got his first taste of playing in front of the Montreal faithful and the Czech rearguard can’t wait for more of the same this year.

“That was definitely the first time I’ve ever played in front of that many people in an intrasquad scrimmage on the first day of camp,” confirmed the sharp-shooting blue-liner. “I had a lot of fun today. After a few months without playing, it felt good to get back into more intense and faster games. I think we have a small team, but the guys can hit really hard.”

Bombarded with questions about his blue line throughout the day, head coach Jacques Martin seemed more-than-pleased with his crop of offensive defensemen.

“We want to encourage our D to jump into the rush. Look around at other teams in the NHL and you see the value in sending in a defenseman as a fourth man on the attack,” noted the Habs’ new bench boss, referring to young standouts Yannick Weber and P.K. Subban looking to crack the Montreal roster.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for Translated by Shauna Denis

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