by Amy Johnson, Director of Communications and Administration, Rocket Sports Media
BROSSARD, QC — On a cool, cloudy July morning on the south shore of Montreal a few dedicated hockey fans quietly set up a table in the parking lot of the Bell Sports Complex. They gather some drinks, cook up some eggs and other delicacies and sit down to enjoy….a Development Camp tailgate?! That’s right, these pumped up fans decided to kick off camp week in style! They even attracted the attention of local law enforcement but don’t worry, the officer only stopped by to share a laugh and say hello.
Inside the facility, young fans gathered with their families and munched quietly on sweet breakfast treats. Coffee cups dotted a few tables along the glass gallery wall as some of the Habs’ faithful fans waited eagerly to get their first glimpse of the newest era of potential Canadiens players.
The first day of the 2014 Montreal Canadiens Development Camp opened with Team B taking to the ice for warmups and skating drills. Familiar names like Michael McCarron, Jacob de la Rose, Mac Bennett, Jiri Sakec, and Brett Lernout were among this first group.
After a brief warmup session, the players broke into smaller groups to go through skating drills led by development coach Patrice Brisebois. McCarron and de la Rose paired off for some quick stop/start drills. McCarron was a slower skater than de la Rose, but more crisp in his sudden direction changes.
Goaltenders Mike Condon and newly drafted Hayden Hawkey arrived on the ice shortly after the other skaters had begun their exercises. They each set up shop in net and began to take some soft shots. Hawkey has a big net presence, and throughout the day was impressive with agility, vision, and a keen ability to seal the post quickly after rebounds.
D-men Lernout and Bennett had their own drill assignments, working on puck handling with some tricky skating. They ended each turn with a shot on goal against Hawkey. Lernout looked a bit slow out of the gate, but is a mobile skater for his size. This is the fifth time that we’ve seen Bennett at development camp; he should step comfortably into the Bulldogs lineup.
After a quick Zamboni cleanup, Team A had their turn on the Brossard ice. Nikita Scherbak was the highlight of this group, as noted by the swell of fans and media paying attention to this round of exercises. He was joined by Nathan Beaulieu, Dylan Corson, Mark MacMillan, Daniel Audette, and Morgan Ellis.
Scherbak seemed to be focused on the task at hand. He was first in line for almost all of his drills and skated smoothly. Through one particular exercise he stumbled and fell to his knees but quickly got up and pressed on, seemingly unrattled. On another occasion Evan Wardley upended him during a defensive drill, but the look on Scherbak’s face seemed to indicate he was taking it all in stride. It’s a stark reminder that these players are indeed young, and hungry to make a stellar impression on the Canadiens coaches.
For the first hour of the afternoon session, both groups took to separate sheets of ice to run full-length one-on-one drills and passing/shooting drills. The pace of the exercises picked up dramatically as the tasks got more physical, testing the goaltenders as well. De la Rose was not on the ice for this session, nor did he participate in the subsequent scrimmage.
During the first scrimmage of the week the prospects weren’t shy, with checking and physicality present from the first puck drop. Team White got on the board first with a quiet goal by Danny Federico, but it was Team Red which was more aggressive on the puck. After numerous scoring chances against Zac Fucale, the tying goal went to Sekac who made his presence on the ice known often.
From there the scoring went back and forth with Sekac scoring his second goal of the scrimmage and McCarron adding a single for Team Red. Team White finished the afternoon with a 4-3 win courtesy of a winning goal by Justin Agosta assisted Nikita Scherbak. Team White also got goals from Mark MacMillan, Momesso and the aforementioned Federico. Despite the Team White win, the game continued with a shootout for good measure.
Fucale, CJ Motte and Jordan Papirny split the goaltending duties for Team White. Mike Condon and Hayden Hawkey manned the Team Red goal.
The prospects take to the ice again Tuesday morning, but this time they’ll be put through a series of electronic testing which captures the science of their skating abilities. The All Habs team will be on location in Brossard this week bringing you all the latest from the 2014 Montreal Canadiens Development Camp!
Photo credits: Amy Johnson, All Habs Hockey Magazine
Jiri Sekac meets with the media at Habs Development camp
Prospect Jacob de la Rose at Brossard
Canadiens first pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft Nikita Scherbak