MONTREAL – There was no shortage of intensity on Day 1 of Canadiens training camp. The Sportsplexe 4-Glaces in Pierrefonds was rocking on Friday with a pair of intrasquad games. The heated affairs even saw Guillaume Latendresse and Michael Ryder require some patching up for cuts and bruises.
Normally known for throwing his weight around, Maxim Lapierre got the crowd going with his nose for the net by notching a pair of goals for Team “C”, which also included Ryder, Saku Koivu, Francis Bouillon and Mark Streit.
“I was a little nervous at first, but it felt good to be back out there with the guys and break the ice,” said Lapierre, who played 46 games as a rookie with the Canadiens last season. “I want to chip in more offensively this season. Like on a 3-2 I don’t want to be in a hurry to give up the puck. I need to be more aggressive.”
As for Team “A”, the Bryan Smolinski-Andrei Kostitsyn-Guillaume Latendresse line did some damage of their own with a pair of goals, including a beauty by Latendresse.
In the morning’s first showdown, Smolinski’s Team “A” took on Alex Kovalev and Team “B”. In the dying moments, a goal by Olivier Fortier of Team “B” set up by Matt D’Agostini tied the game, forcing a shootout. D’Agostini then sealed the deal in the shootout by beating Jaroslav Halak of Team “A” with a sweet move.
Despite attending his first training camp, Fortier hardly looked out of place on a line with Kovalev and D’Agostini.
“Getting to play with a player like Kovalev was pretty amazing,” said Fortier, drafted 65th overall by the Canadiens this summer. “Scoring that tying goal gave me a real boost of confidence and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. It would be neat to get to play in at least one exhibition game, though.”
In the morning’s second matchup, Team “A” took on Saku Koivu’s Team “C” and the rough-and-tumble stuff continued much to the delight of newcomer Tom Kostopoulos. The former Kings forward was pleasantly surprised by the intensity level on Day 1 of camp.
“The games were tight and physical and the guys all arrived in terrific shape,” said Kostopoulos, who skated on a line with Kyle Chipchura and Gregory Stewart. “The attitude and vibe is extremely positive and that can only be a good sign.”
Fresh from Russia, defenseman Pavel Valentenko wasted no time making an impression. Valentenko blasted a shot top corner past Carey Price from the top of the circle drawing oohs and ahs from the crowd.
The only two players not on the ice were Patrice Brisebois (groin) and Christopher Higgins (precautionary measures).
Félix-Antoine Viens is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Manny Almela.