MONTREAL – The Bulldogs won’t have to worry about a lack of motivation for their home-away-from-home game at the Bell Centre on Friday night.
Any Montrealers jonesing for some hockey (re: all Montrealers) will finally be able to get their fix to start the weekend as the Bulldogs will be in action at the Canadiens’ home rink. After dropping a tough 3-0 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday, an NHL arena packed with hockey-hungry fans to cheer them on may be just what the doctor ordered to help them pull even in the rematch.
“It’s obviously really cool to be here at the Bell Centre. These fans in Montreal are so great and still follow us back in Hamilton, so for us to be able to get the chance to play in front of them is fantastic,” shared Brendan Gallagher, who enjoyed a breakout pro performance in his five preseason games with the Canadiens during training camp last year. “They’re going to be excited and we definitely are, too. We want to put on a good show and come out here and work hard for two points.”
He may only be nine games into his AHL career, but so far Gallagher hasn’t disappointed, sharing the team’s scoring lead with three goals and three assists already.
“It’s definitely tougher to score goals at this level. It’s not as easy to come by offensive opportunities, so when you get them you need to make sure you take advantage of them. Every game I’m adapting and learning new areas on the ice that I can score goals from,” he continued, denying the fact that he felt any pressure to keep up the nearly goal-per-game average he logged with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants last season. “I know it’s kind of cliché but I really believe that winning games is the most fun you’re going to have playing hockey, so if I’m not scoring but I’m still helping and my team’s still winning, I’m still having fun. Then when you do get the chance to put one in the back of the net, it’s all that much better of a feeling.”
Across the Canadiens dressing room, fellow rookie Patrick Holland took a moment to discuss his line’s success and how playing alongside Gallagher has helped both of their transitions into the league.
“I was speaking with Gallagher over the course of the summer and I even said to him that this would be my ideal line to be on,” explained Holland, who’s been playing with Gallagher and Michael Bournival since the third game of the season. “Whenever you play against guys that are the same age as you and in the same position, it makes things more comfortable for everyone. When we were put together, I knew it was going to be easy playing with those guys. They’re very intelligent, talented and hard-working individuals.”
Acquired as part of the trade that sent Michael Cammalleri to Calgary last January, Holland will get his first taste of playing in front of a Bell Centre crowd this weekend.
“I didn’t come here with huge expectations about how much ice time I was going to get and how many points I was going to put up,” he stressed. “It’s still early in the season, but I think I’m doing better than I thought I would in certain areas of the game.”
With so many rookies making up the latest incarnation of the Bulldogs, Jarred Tinordi pointed out the benefits they’re able to enjoy as they work their way through the adjustment process together.
“It really doesn’t feel like we’re competing with each other. It’s nice to be able to play with other guys who are all the same age and who you can really relate to,” shared the 6-foot-6 blue-liner. “Everyone here is definitely on the same page.”
They’ll just be playing on bigger stage come Friday night.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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