LONDON, ON – Rookie camp invitee Angelo Miceli isn’t about to let the opportunity of a lifetime pass him by.
On Friday afternoon, the 21-year-old Montrealer factored in on all three of the Canadiens’ goals in the 2015 Rookie Tournament opener at Budweiser Gardens, notching three assists in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was Miceli’s first opportunity to strut his stuff in front of the Habs’ brass against the likes of players belonging to an NHL squad other than the CH, and it’s safe to say he didn’t disappoint.
“I’m definitely happy about it. I’ve come here to play, and I don’t plan on changing my game. It worked when I was younger. It worked when I was playing in Junior. I definitely won’t be changing anything at the professional level,” offered Miceli, who wrapped up a five-year career with the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres in 2014-15, leading Bruce Richardson’s contingent with 38 goals and 96 points in 64 regular season games. “I had a good game. We have another game on Saturday [against the Maple Leafs], and we have to come out on top.”
In addition to chipping in with helpers on second period goals by Jeremiah Addison and Daniel Carr, Miceli also played a part in Tim Bozon scoring the equalizer with 69 seconds remaining in regulation time while Sylvain Lefebvre’s club was up a man and goaltender Zachary Fucale was on the bench for an extra attacker.
“I’m here to impress. I’m here to be seen. I’m with the Canadiens right now, and I’d like that to continue. My goal is to sign an AHL contract. If the Canadiens are interested in me, I’m going to go anywhere they tell me to go,” mentioned Miceli, who grew up in Riviere-des-Prairies and played in the Midget AAA ranks for the Laval-Montreal Rousseau Royal. “I’m happy with the way things are going right now. It’s a dream come true to be here.”
Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 181 pounds, Miceli is by no means the most imposing forward looking to secure employment with his hometown team. What he might lack in size, however, he certainly intends on making up in heart, desire and a will to defy the odds.
“I was never drafted. This is my first chance at a pro hockey career. I want to make the best of it. I’m here right now, and even though I’m a smaller player, I still produced out there [against the Penguins],” stressed Miceli, who has been inspired by the play of one Habs regular, in particular, in recent years – and with good reason. “I look at a guy like David Desharnais, who isn’t necessarily the biggest guy. He’s from Quebec, too. You just have to show up every game. I’m on a mission, and I’m definitely not going to let up.”
Miceli’s positive outlook on life and hockey alike is one of many things that have impressed Lefebvre in their short time together.
“It’s good that he knows [the importance of sticking with it]. If he thinks that’s what’s going to make the difference, then he should continue to do it. Sometimes, you come in and you’re the underdog. But, if things go well for you, anything can happen. He did that out there against Pittsburgh. He made the most of his chances,” offered Lefebvre, who believes Miceli didn’t look out of place at all battling some of the Penguins’ top youngsters on Friday, adding that the up-and-coming centerman played a smart game with and without the puck, and made something happen every time he hit the ice. “It’s still early, but when you’re in survival mode, you tend to come out of your shell. He’s going to have another chance [against Toronto] on Saturday night to get back at it. The chances are going to be on his side for sure if he stays like that.”
Based on everything Miceli had to say after torching Penguins defenders with some slick passes and gritty play, you’d be hard-pressed to think his mindset will be any different going forward.
“At development camp in July, we were wearing Canadiens practice jerseys. That was an honor in itself,” recalled Miceli with a smile. “Certainly putting on the real jersey with the CH on Friday was a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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