As children crammed their way into the building to enjoy the first of two straight matinee games, a few older kids saw their dream come true out on the ice. Less than 24 hours after being called up from the farm, Ryan White, Brock Trotter and David Desharnais helped the Habs topple the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins.
Regular linemates in Hamilton, the trio lined up together with the Canadiens with their usual results: energy, tenacity and effort.
“For sure it’s nice for the three of us to be playing together,” explained Desharnais, who earned third star status for his afternoon’s work. “We know where each other will be on the ice and we’re already on the same page. It’s a lot less intimidating and we can just focus on doing the things that got us here.
“Playing on the fourth line isn’t necessarily a role we’re used to. We know our job is to create some momentum and to keep the puck out of our zone for as long as possible,” continued Desharnais. “We’re taking it one shift at a time and getting more comfortable every time we’re out there. Hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow.”
There with Desharnais every step of the way, making his NHL debut with five shots on goal, Trotter was still on cloud nine well after the game.
“Playing for the Canadiens is a dream come true. I knew the team would call me up when they felt it was the right time,” admitted Trotter, the Bulldogs’ current leading scorer with 53 points. “We know why we’re here: to create momentum. Once we got used to the speed of the game, we settled in and it was a good first NHL experience.”
Smiling across the dressing room like a proud soccer mom was Mathieu Darche, the venerable leader of the Bulldogs who has certainly made the most of his big break with the Habs. That seizing of opportunities seems to have been contagious, with his three Bulldogs disciples doing quite the Darche impression against the Penguins.
“I’m not surprised at all to see them come up and make an impact. I know what they can do since I’ve seen it all season in Hamilton,” beamed Darche. “They’re skilled players who also work harder than anybody else and that’s why we’ve had so much success together with the Bulldogs. Our coaches preached hard work and extra effort and that’s what has gotten us all here. I’m really happy for them.”
Having Darche break down the Hamilton barrier to the Canadiens dressing room has not gone unnoticed by his Bulldogs puppies.
“For sure, having our leader already here makes it so much easier for all three of us,” admitted White. “Matt has been a great older guy for us this season. As soon as he arrived in Hamilton he took on a big leadership role. Seeing him doing all he has since being called up also gave us some extra confidence. We all believe we can make a difference and help this team win.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
Penning a third straight
The Numbers Game - Feb. 6, 2010
Habs call up three players from the Bulldogs
Busy weekend ahead