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Montembeault impresses in Canada's shootout loss

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- It wasn't the outcome Samuel Montembeault wanted, but it's an experience he's not going to soon forget.

Montembeault made 18 saves but was saddled with the defeat in Canada's 3-2 shootout loss against Russia on Wednesday during Canada's National Junior Evaluation Camp at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park.

It was his first time ever pulling on Canada's jersey.

"I really liked the experience," said Montembeault, who stopped two of three Russian players in the shootout. "It was my first international game. We didn't get the win at the end. We would've liked to, but we'll get them back."

Marat Khayrullin (undrafted) scored in the bottom-half of the third round of the shootout to give Russia the win. Canada beat Russia 4-1 on Monday.

Montembeault forced the shootout by stopping Denis Gurianov, Washington's first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2015 NHL Draft, on a clear-cut breakaway midway through overtime.

Montembeault's first experience with Canada didn't come without some jitters.

"I was a bit stressed," he said. "I wanted to get that first shot quickly, to make that first save, the one all goalies want to make first. As the game was going on I started to feel better. It's no different than any other game, than junior. It's a bit quicker. I had to adapt at the beginning, but I'm proud I did."

Coach Dave Lowry came away impressed with the 18-year-old.

"I thought he played with a lot of poise," Lowry said. "I think what we have to do is we have to understand, keep things in perspective. It's his first time. There's a decent-sized crowd and there is a lot of pressure. I thought he handled it real well."

Montembeault posted a 33-11-7 record with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada last season, with a 2.59 goals against average and .891 save percentage. He attended Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp in June before the Panthers selected him in the third round (No. 77) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I'm satisfied with my play tonight," Montembeault said. "The guys played very well in front of me. At the end I'm very proud of that. The guys were working hard in front of me, so I had to make those saves to keep them in the game."

He hopes for an encore come December.

Montembeault is one of three goaltenders at the Summer Showcase vying for the right to represent Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. The others, Mason McDonald (Calgary Flames) and Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils) won their starts.

"It would mean a lot to me," Montembeault said. "To represent our country at the tournament would make me very proud."

Canada wraps up its exhibition series Thursday against the Czech Republic.

No official starter has been named for the game, though Lowry did offer a hint.

"One that dressed tonight will play tomorrow," he said.

Spencer Watson (Los Angeles Kings) and Travis Dermott (Toronto Maple Leafs) scored for Canada in the loss.

Mikhail Yuzeev (undrafted) and Alexander Protapovich (undrafted) had goals for Russia. Alexander Georgiev (undrafted) made 23 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped all three Canada shooters in the win.

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