BROSSARD, QC.– Day three at the Habs Development Camp ended with another cross-ice scrimmage matching the Red Team against White. The game took place in one zone bounded by the blue line and the end boards. Two goalies guarded the nets but the skaters were free to score on either goal.
The warm-up saw players compete one-on-one. Shifts were short, at about 30 seconds. Pairings were random which led to some interesting matchups — Brendan Gallagher, very generously listed at 5’8″ vs. all 6’6″ of Jarred Tinordi was a crowd favorite.
A scrimmage for the day’s bragging rights was up next following the same format but adding a skater to each side. In tight confines, and with players able to score at either end, it was a spirited affair. The 2-on-2 competition was physical, and featured some highlight reel goals.
Danny Kristo used his speed to push towards one goal, hotly chased by two defenders. Kristo then stopped on a dime, reversed his direction and skated to the opposite goal were he beat netminder Aaron Dell.
In one shift (yes, one shift), Alexander Avtsin scored three times — it was magical. After the game, Avtsin was congratulated as the star with a high-five from Tinordi. The pair along with Kristo led Team White to the victory. Team Red, including Gabriel Dumont, Alain Berger and Ian Schultz hit the ice for push-ups.
Avtsin is clearly the most skilled player at the camp. His strength is a perfect blend of speed, size and skill. Avtsin’s skating and puck-handling abilities help him to excel at protecting the puck from defenders.
His first season at the AHL-level didn’t quite go as planned. Avtsin suffered a shoulder injury early in the year and found himself in-and-out of the lineup with a series of nagging injuries. As an offensive threat, he needs to get regular playing time to get in a scoring groove.
There was also an adjustment period as he adapted to a smaller ice surface and the transition to a new culture. The Canadiens organization does many things well, but isn’t at the top of the league in providing off-ice support to young players particularly those who are facing language issues. In those circumstances a lull in his development was to be expected.
- Alain Berger (LW) — Good size and shot. So far he is tough to read — alternates between flashes of excellent play to struggling.
- Steve Quailer (LW) — Player with biggest jump up the performance ladder over last year. He is bigger, stronger and plays a more gritty style.
- Joe Stejskal (D) — Plays with an edge and competes hard for pucks and space. Will be a good addition to Hamilton as a stay-at-home defenseman.
- Morgan Ellis (D) — Good positioning, smart player, active stick combined with leadership qualities.
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