After a successful first year which saw them make it all the way to the second round of the playoffs, the Junior de Montreal are going to be striving to make it even further in their sophomore year. With the solid coaching of Pascal Vincent and some promising young players the future looks bright for the organization.
As is the case in junior hockey many of the players from last year's team are no longer with the Junior. This year the offense of the Junior had to be completely reworked as many players have left the team. Last year's high scorers like Angelo Esposito, Matt Fillier and Nick Layton will be moving on the professional organizations that own their rights and Luke Adam was traded to Cape Breton. Other players from last year who are no longer with the team include Samuel Grenache (traded) and Chris Smith (training camp casualty).
With your top three scorers gone from the team you know that other players are going to have to step it up. This offensive responsibility is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of veteran players like Guillaume Asselin, Pier-Antoine Dion, Jeremy Gouchie, Toni Ritter, and Louis-Marc Aubry. They should receive some help from new players like the diminutive (5'7") Russian Eliezer Sherbatov, Loik Poudrier, Marc-Andre Lavasseur, and Evgeny Solomonov (of Belarus). Coach Vincent has said that he doesn't expect anyone to score 50 goals, but it will be a team in which the four lines can each score some goals.
The defense of the team is quite young, so it is to be expected that there will be some growing pains. But young players like Xavier Ouellet (team's 1st choice from this year's draft), Matt Provost, Guillaume Belanger, and Jonathan Narbonne (out for now with a concussion) should all come into their own with some games under their belts. In the meantime, defensive coach and former NHLer Joel Bouchard will have his work cut out for him with this young group.
The goaltending should once again this year be the Junior's strong point. Starting goaltender Jake Allen is if not the best in the league right up there. Allen took part in the Canadian National Junior team development camp and is the frontrunner for the starting goaltender position. Presently he is with the St. Louis Blues for their training camp, but all indications are that he will be back with the Junior. Backup Jean-Francois Berube was the first goaltender from the QMJHL selected in the NHL draft this past summer. Selected by the Los Angeles Kings, he is taking part in their rookie camp presently. Every coach in the league would like to have the problem that Coach Vincent has with getting each of these two men enough playing time. With either or in the net the Junior have a chance on any given evening to beat any team in the league.
The regular season starts now and goes until the middle of March. We are hoping that this year's edition plays well into the spring of 2010. The first game of the regular season is this Friday night in Shawinigan against the Cataractes. Get your tickets!
-Ticket Purchase: www.admission.com or (514) 790-1245 or Verdun Box Office
-Ticket Prices: V.I.P.: $50.79 (plus taxes and service charges)
Prestige: $28.22 (plus taxes and service charges)
Classic: $16.93 (plus taxes and service charges)
For Season Tickets call: (514) 670-2100