The two teams will face off at the Bell Centre on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs left Hamilton at 6 a.m. Thursday for the bus ride to Montreal and hit the ice at the Bell Centre mid-afternoon for practice.
“When the schedule came out and we saw that we were going to get the opportunity to play here it was really cool,” said Bulldogs forward Brendan Gallagher.
“Obviously we’re really excited to play in front of this crowd and show them the type of team that we are,” Gallagher said.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Jarred Tinordi, who was the Canadiens’ first-round draft pick in 2010.
“We’ll probably have a great crowd here tomorrow night. I think everyone’s really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a really fun game.”
Sylvain Lefebvre, the Bulldogs’ head coach, praised the 6-foot-6 defenceman’s play when he met with the media after practice.
“He’s really solid. He’s a guy who plays against the best lines on the other side practically every night,” Lefebvre said.
The level of play in the American Hockey League is very high this year, which is great for the Bulldogs’ young players, Lefebvre said: “because they get to see right away what it would be like to play in the NHL.”
“Of course, the NHL is another step above. But at the same time it prepares them even better.”
Having so many young players at the same time, Lefebvre said they need to make sure they’re “well-surrounded, well-structured and well-prepared.”
A sports psychologist visits occasionally and a nutritionist also helps out the players, taking them to the grocery store and showing them how to cook a bit, Lefebvre said.
“I think it’s so important that these guys only have to think about hockey - and nothing else.”
“Obviously it’s a big change for them – for most of them. But I think also that the veterans on the team help them out quite a bit and that’s nice.”
You can listen to rookie Patrick Holland talk about the adjustment to playing professional hockey in the video below:
Nearly 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for Friday’s game. The team has typically played in front of crowds of about 12,000 at the 21, 273-seat Bell Centre.
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)