Cataractes spoil Juniors' (and Leblanc's) debut

The 3400+ fans at Verdun Auditorium were ready. Tickets, clackers, Louis Leblanc t-shirts in hand...to say there was much hype going into the Montreal Juniors' home opener is quite a bit of an understatement.

Despite the final score of 5-4 in favour of their opponents, the 7th-ranked team in the CHL this week did not exactly disappoint. Defensive liabilities cost them the first period, but they were persistent enough to climb back to a one-goal difference and fight towards the finish with that small margin. With a lineup depleted by 4 departures to NHL training camps, the Juniors were hard pressed to find the right chemistry on the front and back ends. Like any opener, however, this one was a collection of glimpses into what fans should expect from the Montreal squad this season.

Physicality was another key to this game; even the nets went flying almost as fast as the gloves did after just about every chance on goal for either side. Montreal Canadiens' first-round draft pick Louis Leblanc wasn't too far from the action--or was the center of it--each time.

Speaking of Leblanc, he fared well in his official QMJHL debut, picking up an assist on Francis Meilleur's first goal as a member of the Montreal Juniors. He was also quick to jump on loose pucks on the forecheck and in addition to his six shots on goal, made key passes to linemate and fellow Canadiens' prospect Philippe Lefebvre. In the meantime, the other Junior goals were scored by Jeremy Gouchie, Samuel Aquin and 2011-eligible prospect Xavier Ouellet.

On the other side, Yannick Veilleux, Joé Dubé, Samuel Hodhod, Tommy Tremblay and Raphaël Pouliot all beat Etienne Marcoux whereas opposing netminder Gabriel Girard made 33 saves to pick up his first win of the season.

The next puck-drop at Verdun Auditorium will be against division rivals Gatineau this Sunday afternoon, where among other storylines, Denis Kindl faces his former teammates. It all gets started at 3:05 p.m.