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Kidding around at the Bell Centre

Sunday, 08.11.2009 / 3:20 PM / News
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Kidding around at the Bell Centre

MONTREAL – There was no shortage of smiles or laughs at the Canadiens Open Practice on Sunday afternoon.

Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak kicked things off early in the morning, hitting the ice with a group of 16 lucky young netminders to give them some insider tricks of the trade in the RDS goalie clinic. Next up, minor hockey teams from Ste-Foy and Joliette got their chance to skate alongside their heroes, joined for a few quick drills by Travis Moen, Glen Metropolit, Michael Cammalleri, Josh Gorges, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Maxim Lapierre.

While the rest of his teammates were busy suiting up for practice, Lapierre then teamed up with Youpp! and equipment manager Pierre Gervais to give the thousands of fans in attendance a sneak peak behind the scenes in the Habs’ locker room.

This year’s event also marked the first go round for the many new faces on the Habs this season

“I’ve never seen anything like it. The crowd was really into it right from the start,” explained a smiling Brian Gionta after the practice. “It was a fun experience for them and it was fun for us, too. You get to connect with the crowd more than usual and to see the kids enjoying themselves like that makes it all worthwhile.” 

After the team’s spirited practice in front of a noisy Bell Centre crowd, the Habs split up into two teams for a skills competition. The competition included an accuracy shooting segment followed by a hardest shot contest and finished with a four-on-four showdown pitting Habs against Habs.

Despite participating in his inaugural Canadiens Open Practice, Cammalleri knew exactly what was in store during the event.

Even Youppi! was part of the event.
“I expected it because the guys told me about it before. I thought it was great to have the kids out there on the ice with us first and we got to play around with them a little bit,” beamed the Habs’ sniper. “We had a great time and I hope all the fans enjoyed it.”

The accuracy shooting came down to Team White stars Michael Cammalleri and Glen Metropolit. While both sharpshooters needed only four shots to shatter the four targets, Cammalleri conceded the win to his counterpart.

 “I think it went down to artistic merit with his one-timer  there,” joked Cammalleri after Metropolit nailed the first three targets with pinpoint slapshots before finishing with a crowd-pleasing one-timer for the win. “I’ll give it to Metro, hands down. It was great.”

With the radar gun set up at the other end of the ice, it was time for the big guns to shine. Despite strong showings from his teammates, blue-liner Marc-Andre Bergeron claimed the hardest shot crown with a blistering 104 mph blast. While Bergeron may have won the title, it was an unlikely shooter who turned the most heads in the contest.

“I thought Jaro and Carey were great,” laughed Cammalleri after the two Habs’ netminders donned players’ gloves to launch a few rockets of their own. “I was pretty impressed by Price – he shot an 85 in full goalie gear! I think he may have even given Roman [Hamrlik] a run for his money.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

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