MONTREAL – Two guys who left lasting impressions on the Bell Centre faithful in September were at it again Sunday night, as the Bulldogs faced the Binghamton Senators on the Canadiens’ home ice.
and Max Pacioretty
provided the Hamilton offense in a 5-3 loss to Ottawa’s farm team. Among the final cuts at the Habs’ training camp, the pair appeared to be right at home before the crowd of 14,446 fans.
“It’s great to be back here,” admitted Weber, who showed off his power play prowess with a pair of rockets. “I had a good couple of games here in the preseason and scored a couple of goals then. It feels good to be here in the dressing room and skate in this building with all the fans.”
The feeling was especially mutual between Pacioretty and the fans, who roared in approval when his name was announced for the starting lineup.
“Just playing in front of these fans and we’re not even really the home team here, it’s just an unbelievable feeling. That could get anyone ready to play,” said Pacioretty.
And ready they were. Perhaps almost too ready. Playing at the Bell Centre was clearly something special for the Bulldogs, all of whom would like nothing more than to skating on that ice on a regular basis sooner rather than later.
“I think there was a little bit more pressure on us,” said head coach Don Lever. “The guys were trying to impress and sometimes when that happens, you try and do too much. But it was a great atmosphere for our guys to go through.”
With Canadiens’ brass looking on from the press box, both Weber and Pacioretty showed exactly why the team selected them at the 2007 draft. Weber picked up right where he left off in the preseason with his power-play markers while Pacioretty displayed some nifty stickhandling before beating Binghamton’s Brian Elliott with an unassisted tally.
Coming out of junior and college respectively, the duo are starting to find their games at the pro level. With the success they’ve found on the Habs’ ice, both are hoping the opportunity comes again soon but are well aware that good things come to those who wait.
“You really have to keep going and be patient,” said Weber. “I have a lot to learn this season but I think I’m learning every day and getting better with each game.”
Pacioretty struggled early on in the campaign but the Connecticut native is more aware of what the professional ranks are all about. Now that he’s settled in, he’ll do his part to reach that next step.
“I hope my time will eventually come,” said the just-turned-20-year-old. “You just have to keep improving. All I can do is work as hard as I can and hopefully good things will happen.”Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com