Two Montreal Canadiens prospects took to the ice at the Centre Excellence Sport Rousseau in Boisbriand yesterday, in Team Canada’s 5-3 win over a team of U Sports all-stars.
Goaltender Michael McNiven played the final 30 minutes of the game coming in for starter Carter Hart. He had a 4-0 lead, and didn’t have a warm up when he came into the game.
Naturally the first two chances against him were two-on-ones. McNiven stopped the first one, but after Elgin Pearce came out of the penalty box, he found Philippe Maillet who beat McNiven.
It only got worse from there. Two minutes later, on the power play, Brett Welychka one-timed a slap shot through McNiven to make it 4-2. And 31 seconds after that, Nathan Chiarlitti put a wrist shot past the goaltender to make it 4-3. But after that, McNiven shut the door and ended his night with 10 saves on 13 shots.
“It was a rough start,” said McNiven. “I tried to pull together and have a strong third period. They were coming quick as soon as they put me in and they got a couple of lucky odd-man breaks, and me and the team stuck together.”
McNiven said that he spoke to Hart between periods to regroup and come out strong for the final period. Hart was perfect on the 10 shots he faced.
“The chances we gave up didn’t help him,” said Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme. “Two two-on-ones, it’s not easy to come into a game like that. I’m conscious of that. We can also talk about his save at the end of the game in the same kind of situation. It’s not only a question of goals, it is how they are scored and the types of chances we are giving up.”
McNiven is battling for a spot on the final roster with Hart and Connor Ingram. Hart is the presumptive starting goaltender with McNiven and Ingram battling for the backup spot. Ingram played the entire game for the University team and made 24 saves on 29 shots.
Both Ingram and Hart were invited to Canada’s summer showcase. McNiven was not one of the four goaltenders there in the summer but was brought to this camp because of his strong start with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League.
Tomorrow, McNiven will play against Canada for the full 60 minutes while Hart and Ingram split the game for Canada.
“It’s a good group of guys, a good group of players so I’m just going to need to prepare myself a bit better and just be ready,” McNiven said.
The other Canadiens prospect in the game was defenceman Victor Mete. Mete is a left-handed defenceman getting a look on the right side, and played on Canada’s second penalty kill unit.
My main impressions of him was that he always has his head on a swivel and is very aware of his positioning. He makes a great first pass and can also carry the puck out of the zone. He was forced to defend a few odd-man rushes and was usually able to mitigate the scoring opportunities.
Habs first-round pick Noah Juulsen sat the opener out, but Ducharme said that all eight players who missed Monday’s game are expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday afternoon. Ducharme also said that it is possible that cuts come as soon as today after Canada’s 1:00 p.m. game, also against U Sports.
Canada will wrap the camp up on Wednesday night with a game against the Czech Republic. All games are in Boisbriand.