Hockey Night in Canada took place at 7pm last night between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs; only it took place in London, ON and it was between the Habs' and Leafs' rookie squads. Nonetheless, it was a spirited tilt that had plenty of entertainment and some striking similarities between the rookies and their respective NHL teams. The Montreal rookies were outshot, much like the big league squad, and the Leafs fired 51 shots on Michael McNiven and still lost, much like their big league squad.
Toronto opened up the scoring in the first period off a nice tip from Jack Rodewald from a Stephan Desrocher shot from the point. The rest of the frame saw the Canadiens running around in their own zone, making questionable line changes and also taking bad penalties. Leafs prospect Cameron Lizotte seemed to have a target on Charles Hudon of the Habs all night long as he laid him out several times. Eventually, Michael McCarron came to the defence of the diminutive Hudon and landed a slew of right hooks on Lizotte, sending both men off for five. The fight sparked the Habs as they tied the game thanks to a shorthanded goal by Jamal Watson. Tim Bozon put the Habs up in the second off of a beauty feed from Nikita Scherbak, who had a much better game than he did against Pittsburgh. The Leafs countered with two quick goals to retake the lead but it was short lived as 2013 third round pick Connor Crisp provided a slick tip-in to tie it at 3-3. The third period saw the Leafs come out like a house on fire only to be bested by McNiven, who had a solid game in net for the Habs. Goals by Hudon and Thrower put the game away as the Canadiens' rookies bested the Leafs' rookies 6-4 as the hosting Leafs remain winless in the tournament.
A few things that stood out from this game: Brett Lernout has been very impressive thus far. The 6' 4" defenceman not only has great positional awareness and speed, he can also level opposing players with clean, hard hits. He reminds me of Alexei Emelin but with a much greater skating ability. Charles Hudon is doing his best to prove that he deserves a shot with the big club. He potted two goals and was crossing up defenders the entire game. The Leafs didn't dress many of their high end prospects but Travis Dermott was in the lineup and does this kid ever have a great breakout pass from his own end. He is prone to being caught out of position here and there and his shot isn't anything to write home about but he's the type of hockey-smart, two-way defenceman the Leafs will need in the next couple of years.