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Championship habits

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

QUEBEC CITY – Michael McCarron has picked up the helpful habit of winning at just the right time as he prepares to go pro.

McCarron and the Oshawa Generals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 in overtime on Sunday to win the Memorial Cup in Quebec City. The win marked the second championship in two weeks for the Canadiens’ prospect, who also hoisted the Robertson Cup in the OHL final on May 15.

Becoming the fourth Habs hopeful since 2011 to win Junior hockey’s most prestigious trophy, the 20-year-old center put an exclamation point on what has been an impressive turnaround season with the Generals in 2015.

“It’s unbelievable. The guys in the room battled so hard all year to get to this point and we had one heck of a game tonight,” dished the Macomb, MI native, who was traded to Oshawa from the London Knights on January 1. “I can’t thank them enough for bringing me in here. The leadership and coaching staff here have been unbelievable.”

Likewise, McCarron for his own part also had a solid tournament, picking up a goal and two assists over four games at the Colisée Pepsi, while also showcasing his physicality to the tune of six hits in Sunday’s final. After being named to the tournament All-Star team, the Habs’ first-round pick from 2013 was quick to deflect credit back his teammates.

“I was alright, but it’s not about me; it’s about this team,” continued the six-foot-six forward, who racked up 68 regular season points in the OHL and 18 more during the playoffs. “They played really well and I can’t thank them enough.”

Tied at one goal apiece with time winding down in the third, McCarron nearly potted the game-winner himself but couldn’t find the back of the open net, although it’s safe to say the missed chance won’t be haunting the 225-pounder anytime soon.

“I’m not thinking about that, I don’t care right now,” admitted McCarron with a laugh. “I missed that chance, but on a team, everyone steps up at the right time and we ended up getting the win.”

In this case, the win ended up capping off the tough yearly competition, which begins with 60 CHL teams in the fall and ends with just one left standing in the spring.

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever won,” acknowledged the American forward who also won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2013 IIHF World U18 Championships in Russia. “It’s probably the hardest thing to win other than a Stanley Cup, and it teaches me how hard winning really is.”

A valuable lesson for a promising young player who could be suiting up in Montreal one day soon.

“It labels me as a winner,” underlined McCarron. “I think [the staff in Montreal] knows that I can win now, so hopefully one day I can play for the Habs and win the Cup.”

Eligible to play in the AHL as of the fall, for the moment the towering center would prefer to finally enjoy the moment following months of hard work, rather than predict the future.

“I think everyone knows what’s next for us. We’re going to have a little fun – we deserve it.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

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