Invited to training camp on a tryout basis this September, DeSimone has been working hard the past few weeks to make an impression on the Habs brass. In what may have been his fourth and final audition with the big team, the 24-year-old center did exactly that.
“This game is all about confidence,” confirmed the University of New Hampshire grad, who had an assist on the Canadiens’ only goal of the night. “I think tonight after a few plays down low, our line started cycling the puck pretty well and I got the confidence back that I had in college. It took me a few games but it’s a big transition.”
After registering two hits and a minus-3 differential through his first three games of the preseason, DeSimone found his groove in Game 4. The East Amherst, NY native put his renewed confidence on display in the second period, pulling a nifty move to eventually set up Michael Cammalleri’s opening goal.
“I actually was about to dump the puck in there,” admitted DeSimone with a laugh. “I saw the D back off and Coach Cunneyworth has been telling me all week to drive the net and take the puck to the net and move my feet. It kind of just clicked in my head and I just kept going to the net and cut to the inside and took the shot. Cammalleri buried it – he doesn’t miss too many of those.”
Cunneyworth wasn’t the only one impressed with the speedy pivot’s play. Taking in the game from the Bell Centre pressbox, longtime friend Max Pacioretty took the time to tweet his appreciation for the highlight-reel move.
“He’s been one of my best friends for a while and he’s been supporting me in my career for a long time,” explained DeSimone, better known in the Twitter world as @DesyStorm. “It was nice to get a tryout here and have Max around. He’s been a huge help.”
While DeSimone’s future with the organization is still unknown, the budding prospect is using his opportunity in Montreal to learn as much as he can while he’s here.
“Coming in here I didn’t expect to play so many preseason games so it was a good opportunity for me and I was fortunate to get those games,” described the 6-foot center. “I think I’ve made strides every game and tonight I probably felt the most comfortable. Now I know what it takes to play at this level and I have to continue working even harder.
“At the lower levels like junior or college you can kind of go east-west and make plays you can’t make at this level,” he added. “You can’t be waiting for something to happen and you can’t take guys one-on-one as much. You have to adjust and I think tonight I got a grasp on that. I went to the net and took pucks to the net and that’s what it takes to produce at this level.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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