Canadiens fans will spot a familiar face on the ice this month when the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship gets underway at home in two of hockey's biggest markets.
On Monday morning during a press conference at the Bell Centre, Habs prospect Zachary Fucale was among the 29 players invited to Team Canada’s pre-tournament selection camp.
CLICK HERE FOR CANADA’S NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM SELECTION CAMP ROSTER
“I’m looking forward to what should be a great preparation [for the tournament],” acknowledged the fourth-year Halifax Mooseheads netminder, who joins Winnipeg Jets goaltending prospect and fellow 2013 NHL Draft pick Eric Comrie at the camp which kicks off on December 11 in Toronto. “We’re going to win. That’s the goal. That’s the ultimate goal. Every country wants to win and Canada is no different. That’s what we want to do and that’s what we’re heading towards.”
While there are typically few guarantees in the world of international hockey, with just two goaltenders on Hockey Canada’s list of invitees -- and thus no further cuts to make at the position -- Fucale and Comrie are nevertheless locks to be among the 22 young men hitting the ice when the home team opens its preliminary round play on December 26 in Montreal.
“We’re heading into our selection camp with just two goaltenders on our roster,” noted Team Canada head coach Benoit Groulx. “Our choice to do so is the result of a process which started two years ago. The goaltenders were scouted by our goaltending coach as well as by [Hockey Canada scout] Ryan Jankowski. Together we came to the conclusion that over the last two years, Fucale and Comrie have been the two most consistent, competitive and successful goalies in the country. We truly believe they represent the best goaltending tandem in Canada.”
With roster spots already wrapped up and just the de facto starter left to be determined, Fucale meanwhile insists there won't be any controversy between the pipes.
"Coms and I have known each other for a long time and we're going to be good teammates through all of this," affirmed the six-foot-one QMJHL product of his WHL counterpart. "All either of us wants to do is help the team win. Ultimately that's our job and whoever is in there needs to give the team a chance to win every night."
Even so, as a 19-year-old native of Laval, QC, Fucale now has the opportunity to finish his under-20 World Junior career in front of friends and family after previously representing Canada in Sweden a year ago.
“It’s going to be a great experience. I’m excited to play here at the Bell Centre as well as in Toronto. These are two unbelievable buildings to play in,” concluded the Canadiens' 36th overall pick from a season ago, whose last Bell Centre appearance came in a 2013 preseason start opposite the Buffalo Sabres. “It’s something that will help me in the future. Having all of our fans behind us will give us a lot of energy to build off of. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship runs from December 26, 2014 to January 5, 2015 at the Bell Centre in Montreal and at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Tickets for the tournament can be purchased here.
Elise Robillard is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
Roster announced for Canada's National Junior team selection camp
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Avalanche
All in a day's work
The Numbers Game - November 29, 2014
Here is the complete broadcast schedule for the eighth episode of the third season of 24CH.CANAL D
Saturday, November 29 - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 12:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, November 29 - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 12:30 p.m.
Friday, December 5 - 11:30 p.m.
Monday, December 1st - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6 - 3:30 p.m.
24CH Premiere, including extra footage, will be available every Friday night on the Bell TV app. 24CH The Quiz will be available on demand on Bell Local (channel 1217) for Fibe TV customers, with a new episode every Saturday.
- The Canadiens hit the ice at First Niagara Center on Friday morning ahead of their game against the Sabres on Friday night.
- Carey Price will enjoy his 19th start of the season on Friday, including his first outing against the Sabres in 2014-15. The 27-year-old netminder is 13-9-7 in 29 career starts against Buffalo, looking to build on his impressive 1.93 all-time goals-against average vs. the Sabres.
- Injured former Hab Josh Gorges confirmed he won’t be in the lineup on Friday against his former team, but is hoping to be able to play the second half of the home-and-home series at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
- Michael Bournival participated in a full practice with the team, still working his way back from an upper body injury suffered against the Sabres on November 5.
- Despite being a team currently tied for first in the NHL facing a team currently tied for last in the league, the Habs aren’t taking anything for granted coming into the front end of the home-and-home series. While Buffalo has as many wins as the Canadiens have losses so far this season, the Sabres have picked up the pace of late, and both teams own identical 3-2 records in their last five games. Coming off a 5-0 loss to the Rangers on Sunday night, Montreal will be looking to bounce back with a gritty performance at First Niagara Center on Friday night.
“They’re playing well. I think they had a three-game win streak going there and they have a lot of bodies coming in and out of the lineup,” mentioned Dale Weise, who has already tied his career high for goals with four through 20 games this season. “They’re a good team and they work hard, which is the key with them. We know they’re going to come in and work hard because this is a team with a lot of pride.”
- After being called up from the Bulldogs early on Tuesday evening, Eric Tangradi will take part in his first game as a member of the Canadiens on Friday night. Penciling Tangradi in alongside Manny Malhotra and Dale Weise, Michel Therrien has made his expectations very clear when it comes to the 25-year-old winger.
“He’s a big guy and I’m expecting him to play like it. I want him to skate. He has an opportunity to come back to the National Hockey League and I think he’s a young man who has sort of been searching for his place and his role the last few years,” said Therrien, whose new forward already has 136 career NHL games under his belt coming into Friday’s tilt. “We just want him to be himself and make his presence felt on the ice.”
- Ready to make his Canadiens debut on road ice, Tangradi is looking forward to keeping things simple in Buffalo, hoping to help bolster a lineup that already owns one of the best records in the NHL this season.
“Winning teams need to have balance and depth on all four lines, so if I can come in here and provide some sort of spark or try to do something to create momentum and help the team win, that would be great,” explained the Philadelphia native, who has previously suited up for the Penguins and Jets. “Manny plays a very simple game and a very predictable game. Coming into a new lineup, when you have a guy who plays the middle position the right way, you can feed off of him and know he’s going to be in the right spots at the right time. It takes some weight off me coming in and it allows me to do the things I’m good at and not try to force myself to make plays that might be a stretch.”
- The Canadiens are coming into Friday’s game more rested than usual, having had a quiet week after playing their most recent game in New York on Sunday night. Having given his troops two full days away from the rink on Monday and Tuesday, Therrien is hoping to see that extra R&R pay off against the Sabres.
“We had a good week, but we want to see the results of that rest tonight. I’m optimistic about tonight’s game,” admitted Therrien, who isn’t taking his basement-dwelling opponent lightly. “Every team in the NHL deserves our respect. We have to play another good game if we want to win.
“We did a lot of good things the last time we were here, which helped us start a big win streak,” he added, having won a 2-1 decision in a shootout on November 5 in Buffalo before kicking off a 8-2-0 sequence in the 10 games that followed. “I think this game will be a good challenge for us and we need to come in with intensity.”
Projected lineup vs. Buffalo
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Thursday before departing for Buffalo where they’ll take on the Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Friday night. Michel Therrien’s troops will go up against Buffalo again on Saturday night in Montreal.
- Prior to the start of practice, Michael Bournival skated with Canadiens strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard and athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Bournival continues rehabbing the shoulder injury he sustained on November 5 in Buffalo.
- The Canadiens spent an extended amount of time working on special teams to start the on-ice session, trying out a new formation with the man advantage. Four forwards were featured on the first wave, including Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and Lars Eller, along with defenseman P.K. Subban. Jiri Sekac rotated with Eller. The second wave featured forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher, along with defensemen Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar.
- Michel Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will get the start in goal against the Sabres on Friday night. He also confirmed that any decision regarding the usage of six or seven defensemen against Buffalo will come on Friday as well.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- After a well-deserved two-day break, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday. Michel Therrien’s troops will hit the road on Thursday, traveling to Buffalo where they’ll take on the Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Friday night. The Habs will go up against the Sabres again on Saturday night in Montreal.
- Michael Bournival hit the ice with athletic therapist Vincent-Roof Racine prior to the start of practice. The 22-year-old took part in light contact drills as he continued rehabbing his shoulder injury.
- Forward Eric Tangradi, who was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday evening, took part in practice alongside his teammates on Wednesday.
- A total of 1,023 units of blood were collected on Tuesday at the Canadiens-evenko Blood Drive. That surpassed the objective of 750 units. Players and members of the coaching staff were on site at the Bell Centre to meet and interact with donors. The blood drive is the largest of its kind in Canada in 2014.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Sekac – Eller – Prust
Parenteau – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Gallagher – Plekanec – Galchenyuk
Weise – Malhotra – Tangradi
Gonchar – Emelin
Subban – Markov
Weaver – Allen
- The Canadiens had a day off on Monday after returning home late from New York.
- The Canadiens won't practice on Tuesday, with the players scheduled to attend the team's annual blood drive which takes place at the Bell Centre between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Click here for more information.
Charles Hudon has adjusted quickly to life in the American Hockey League. By registering three assists during the Hamilton Bulldogs’ tilt against the Toronto Marlies on November 23, the young centerman moved up the scoring chart to lead all AHL rookies in points. He boasts six goals and 12 assists on the year, in addition to a plus-11 differential. Hudon is playing stellar hockey in November, having picked up points in eight of 10 games played this month.
- Allen was skating with Mike Weaver on a defence pairing at practice. Michel Therrien confirmed Allen will play against Boston on Saturday night, and there is a possibility he will go with a lineup of seven defensemen.
|Mother & Son Family Photo|
“It’s a lot of fun. Last night we had a dinner with the guys and their moms and the staff. It was good to see how much it means to everyone and how important everyone’s moms were for them being in the position we’re in,” shared Gallagher, whose mother, Della, made the trip with him to Boston. “We got to enjoy seeing them seeing the behind the scenes of what we go through as players. We’ll be able to focus, though, because we know the importance of this game tonight. With them watching, it adds a little more excitement for them, but for us it doesn’t change the way we play.”
- Carey Price will get his 18th start of the season on Saturday night against the Bruins. Dustin Tokarski will be between the pipes on Sunday in New York.
- After registering a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, the Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning before boarding a charter flight to Boston where they’ll battle the Bruins on Saturday night before taking on the Rangers in New York on Sunday.
- Prior to the start of practice, Michael Bournival skated alongside strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard to continue the rehab work on his injured shoulder.
- Eight players took to the ice on Friday, including forwards Manny Malhotra, Brandon Prust, Jiri Sekac, Drayson Bowman, Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise. Defenseman Tom Gilbert also took part in the on-ice session, as did goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
- Canadiens players and staff members will be making the trip to New York and Boston accompanied by their mothers and other family members as part of the team's Mother & Son Road Trip.
- The Canadiens bench boss also indicated that he will meet with newly acquired defenseman Bryan Allen on Friday evening in Boston, and a decision on his playing status will be made after that.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Thursday morning.
|Drafted by the Blues in 2007, Lars Eller will face his former team for the fifth time on Thursday.|
- Any changes to the Canadiens roster will be game-time decisions, including the possible return of Mike Weaver, who hinted he may be back in time to face the Blues.
“It’s going day by day and I’ll be a game time decision tonight,” acknowledged Weaver, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Penguins with an upper body injury. “I’m getting close and obviously no one wants to be sitting out and watching. I’m trying to get back as soon as possible and we’ll see what happens tonight.”
Fortunately the Habs are in good hands according to the veteran blue liner, should his return to action be delayed.
“It’s great to have depth, especially with D-men. There’s a lot of bumping and grinding in the corners and blocking shots and stuff like that so obviously from time to time guys will get beat up and bruised. Having a guy who can go in there and run with seven D-men is nice. Everybody is ready to go.”
- Both the Habs and the Blues are coming off shutout losses heading into Thursday’s tilt, as the Canadiens saw a six-game winning streak snapped by the Penguins 4-0 on Tuesday while St. Louis was blanked 2-0 by Boston after rattling off a trio of consecutive wins against the Sabres, Predators and Capitals.
Nevertheless, the Habs already have their sights set on stringing together a couple more, starting on Thursday.
“[The key tonight] first of all, is putting Tuesday’s game behind us and moving on right away. We’ve got another great matchup ahead of us. This is a good team and a great test for us. I think we’ve just got to be better with the puck. We’ve got to get the puck moving north and get behind their D. I think that’s when we play our best; when we keep it as simple as possible and gets puck deep,” offered defenseman Tom Gilbert. “We put together a good streak of games but it always hurts after a loss, so we’ve got to start a new streak tonight.”
- Ranked first in the league for giveaways, the Blues will be a tough test for the Habs, who are ranked 28th after 20 games this season.
“It’s going to be a patient game. They’ll be waiting for turnovers so we’ll have to be good in the neutral zone and at getting pucks deep,” continued Gilbert, who is a +6 so far this year. “Turnovers will be huge tonight because they can capitalize on everything. Turnovers in this league usually end up in the back of the net so we’ve got to be better at that.”
Speaking firsthand from experience, former Blues draft pick Lars Eller agrees staying composed will be key against St. Louis.
“Obviously we’ve got to take their time and space away from them. The best way to play them is by keeping the puck amongst ourselves as much as we can and keeping it away from them as much as possible,” explained the 25-year-old center, who faces his former team for the fifth time on Thursday. “We’ve got to stay tight on them while also staying out of the box ourselves.”
- Receiving a Blues team which has allowed an average of just 1.89 goals against per game, the Canadiens will look to rediscover the scoring touch from the team’s most recent six-game winning streak, during which the Habs outscored their opponents 23-7.
“Playing for Hitchcock is definitely a system where you’re not going to allow too many chances against,” affirmed Max Pacioretty, whose five-game point streak was snapped against the Penguins. “They obviously have talent up front as well so if we let them get off to a good start it’s going to be tough to dig ourselves out of that hole.”
Making the most of every inch the Blues give up will be tantamount then for the Canadiens against a team which has allowed just 35 goals this season, tied for first in that category with Pittsburgh.
“I think over the last couple of years they’ve been a very tight defensive team,” noted Eller. “They’ve got a good system, they skate a lot, and they’re strong. There are a lot of good things you can say about them so we better capitalize on the opportunities we get tonight. They play simple and they’re just a really good overall team. They’re definitely a team we want to measure ourselves with.”
From the room
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