BROSSARD – The Canadiens had two fresh faces at practice on Wednesday morning. Gabriel Dumont and Robert Mayer made their way from Oklahoma City, where the Hamilton Bulldogs were facing off against the Barons, to Montreal in a day to get ready for Wednesday’s tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It came to a surprise to both players who were enjoying a day off.
“I was in Oklahoma City, and since I have a Canadian phone, it was off all day. Hamilton coach Clement Jodoin kept trying to reach me but couldn’t get in touch. I got back to my room around 9:00 p.m. and I had a voice mail,” explained Gabriel Dumont with a smile.
“My roommate, Dany Masse, was the one who got the voice mail. He hung up and looked at me and said ‘Gab, you’re going up’. He told me to listen to the voice mail. It was a special moment. He was really happy for me also; we’ve been playing together for a long time,” continued the 22-year-old center.
“I spent all day in airports,” laughed Dumont when asked about his sleeping habits after being called up for his first NHL game. “It took a while for me to fall asleep and I woke up pretty early this morning.”
Gearing up for a first NHL game is every player’s dream so for Dumont, being called up at the beginning or at the end of a season doesn’t make much of a difference.
“There’s no specific time to be called up. I was really happy and I’m sure it’s going to be amazing,” said Dumont whose rugged style is what appealed to the Canadiens coaching staff. “You always want to jump start your career as soon as possible. It’s going to happen tonight and I’m happy.
“When I got the call, I didn’t know which team I was going to play against. What a coincidence! I bumped into Lightning head coach [and former Drummond Voltigeurs coach] Guy Boucher in the hotel lobby. He was pretty surprised to see me, and I was also surprised to see him,” explained Dumont who played under Boucher in Drummondville for four seasons, from 2006-07 to 2009-10.
Robert Mayer also joined Dumont for the 2618 km trip to Montreal.
“I was surprised. I was actually caught off guard a bit. We were in Oklahoma City and it was a long day yesterday but I’m happy about it,” explained the 6-foot-1 netminder. “We were on a roadtrip for around 22 days. In Oklahoma City when you turn on the TV all you can see is basketball right now, so I wasn’t aware of anything concerning the Canadiens. The coaches in Hamilton just told me as I was going shopping a bit at the mall. I was very excited.”
Mayer went 5-3 in his last eight games before being tagged to back up Peter Budaj after Carey Price was sidelined with a mild concussion.
“My goal for the start of the season was to play a lot of games. Last month I thought I played really well and my confidence was really high. I’m ready in case anything happens,” said Mayer after Wednesday’s practice. “Buds wants to play; he hasn’t seen a lot of ice time. I’m very confident and I’ll be ready to step in if I have to.
“It’s a big honor for me to be up here and see how everything goes," he added. "We’re going on a road trip tomorrow; it’s going to be another experience for sure. I’m really excited. Maybe I’ll see some action and maybe I won’t; I can’t control that,” concluded the Czech goalie.
Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com.
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