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Loud and clear

Taking part in rookie tournaments isn't all about coming out on top, but picking up valuable experience along the way

by Matt Cudzinowski @canadiensmtl /

TORONTO - The Canadiens' young guns generated some serious offense on Friday, but they couldn't manage to do it again on Saturday.

Martin Lapointe's squad surrendered six straight goals to the Ottawa Senators' prospects in an 8-2 loss at Ricoh Coliseum to close out their 2017 Rookie Tournament with a 1-1 record. 

Victor Mete and Thomas Ebbing were the only Habs who lit the lamp against the Senators, with Ebbing notching his third marker over the two-game stretch.

Despite the defeat, though, the Canadiens' director of player personnel insisted annual events like these aren't really about wins or losses at all.

Video: Martin Lapointe evaluates the Rookie Tournament

"It's not in a two-game rookie tournament that you win the Stanley Cup. What they need to get out of it is the experience, the pace of the game," insisted Lapointe, after watching his troops fall to a far more seasoned Senators contingent. "On the other side, Ottawa had four or five guys who played in the AHL. The pace was faster for us. Our guys need to learn and take that experience with them and learn from it. It was a little bit tough, but the guys still worked hard."

That's exactly the way Rookie Tournament captain Noah Juulsen sees things as the group makes their way back to Montreal on Sunday and gets to work again on Monday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

"That's a tough game when you go down 8-2, but as a group it's a learning experience for us. It's kind of our first little test together," explained Juulsen, who continues to prepare to make the jump to the pros this fall. "I think going forward here into the next part of camp, we should be alright."

Video: Juulsen on his Rookie Tournament performance

Invitee goaltender Antoine Samuel surrendered five goals on 28 shots before being replaced by Michael McNiven, who was beaten three times on 17 shots the rest of the way.

By no means was it the performance the 19-year-old netminder was hoping to deliver with the Canadiens' brass watching closely from the stands, but Samuel wasn't about to get down on himself given the magnitude of the occasion.

"Obviously, it was special. Walking into the locker room and seeing a Canadiens jersey with my name on it and then getting to play a game," said Samuel, a member of the QMJHL's Baie-Comeau Drakkar. "I was nervous at the start, but I'm going to learn from this experience. It was a game with a lot of lows, but I had some good moments. You just have to take the positive away from it and keep on working."

Video: Samuel on his effort on Saturday night

Several players, in particular, caught Lapointe's attention over the weekend, with Juulsen leading the way on D.

"Noah plays the same way every night. You know what you're going to get from him. He's a competitor. He can block shots. He did everything that a coach wants him to do," praised Lapointe. "I want him to get stronger with one-on-one battles. He's still a young kid. He's turning pro this year. We'll see what happens."

Likewise, Lapointe lauded the effort of a pair of forwards as well, with Daniel Audette earning another strong grade along with William Bitten.

"Bitten's skating really stood out. He was more explosive and going into the corners. He was combative out there," shared Lapointe. "He doesn't shy away from going to the dirty areas. I saw him take the puck to the net a lot. His skating is better than last year."

There's still time for others to make their mark, though, as rookie camp resumes on the South Shore.

"Up front, there are a lot of opportunities for guys to step in. Even on D, we have a lot of defensemen and a lot of healthy competition. We want that. We want them to force our hand for them to stay," mentioned Lapointe. "It's good for the team."

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