This game was interesting for this Habs fan for two reasons: to see Canadiens 2013 first-rounder Michael McCarron assert himself and continue his progression, and to see a Flyers prospect and a Leafs prospect fall flat on their face.
I don't really hold any ill will towards Samuel Morin and Frédéric Gauthier (respectively), but it's kind of the same dynamic I have with Malcolm Subban: I don't want them to be successful at this point in their career. Until they change address. And I hope all the rumours about a possible trade out of Boston for Malcolm come true so we can start cheering for him.
My first reason for watching was borne out early, with on his first shift Michael McCarron making a good pass on an odd-man rush and streaking to the net for a rebound. None was to be had, but you have to love the instincts, such behaviour will be fruitful in the pros.
On his second shift, Michael took a draw in the offensive zone, and instead of going backwards on his backhand, he poked the puck forward, pushed/kicked it to his winger as he bowled the opposite centreman over onto his butt. Tobias Lindberg shot once, got a rebound and cashed it in. Advantage, McCarron.
The Generals jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, and the theme for the talking heads was the complete domination they had over the Océanic, limiting them to 2 shots in 15 minutes. The last five minutes of the period was all Rimouski though, as they evened the score, and the analysts shook their heads and explained that junior hockey is a game played by young men, and that emotion plays a big role, both positively and negatively, you can see wild swings in momentum quite often.
In the second period, while on a powerplay Mike McCarron took a draw in the offensive zone and won it, and shortly thereafter took on Samuel Morin in a visor-punching contest. We didn't see what started it, how it came about, due to poor camera work and director work from Sportsnet, but Michael got the takedown after an uneventful scrap. Game, McCarron.
Later, Mike had a golden opportunity to finish off his Gordie Howe hat trick when he got the puck right on the doorstep of the Rimouski net, with the Océanic goalie already down on his knees. Our boy didn't quite bossy it though, he réjeanhouled it instead and lifted it above the crossbar, and over the glass into the netting.
Little hiccup early in the third, with Michael killing a penalty. He won the faceoff, the Generals couldn't quite clear the puck, but he eventually stole it away from a rival and took off on a two-on-two break. He didn't have the jets though, he got caught from behind by Frédéric Gauthier, who turned the puck over and went the other way with it. The Océanic quickly scored.
Okay, maybe it was a medium hiccup. Nothing wrong with being aggressive on the penalty kill, but you need to be aware, if you don't have separation, maybe just clear it, make the safe play.
Still waiting on the Gordie Howe hat trick.
And then Mr. Gauthier took a nice pass in the slot for a good scoring chance later, so while he was relatively invisible the first 40 minutes, the kid was now coming on.
Oh well, maybe it's with the Marlies that he's destined to bust...
The Generals scored the go-ahead goal in the third, a beauty by their other twin-tower Hunter Smith, a 6'6" Calgary draft pick.
Michael had a couple more strong shifts in the third, where he and his linemates played a strong cycle game and pushed around the smaller Océanic players, and set our boy up for a couple of chances, but couldn't find mesh.
The Generals win their initial game. About which I'm mildly conflicted.
In a way I don't really have a dog in this fight, and usually I'd want the LHJMQ team to win, but in this case I want Mike to get as much icetime and big-game experience as possible, which means they need to win and get in the tourney playoffs.
Tomorrow, Mike is trying to score on Zachary Fucale when the Generals play the Remparts, so we'll have even more mixed feelings I guess.