BUFFALO — “They had been yelling issues from the bench after the primary scrum,” Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Nathan Legare stated with simply a little bit of a smirk.
The Penguins prospects crew beat the Boston Bruins prospects, 6-4, Saturday on the Prospects Challenge on the LECOM occasions Center. Legare led the Bruins into not less than 4 penalties, together with taking sucker-punches within the faceoff circle, forcing defensemen to rip him away from the Boston web a number of occasions, and handing over practically three intervals of agitating, bodily play.
Legare was residing rent-free on the Bruins’ bench from the primary minutes, and he took full benefit.
“I used to be ending my checks, going to the online after which typically getting underneath their pores and skin,” stated Legare. “Sometimes once you end fairly onerous checks, typically the blokes on the opposite facet are getting pissed off or stuff like that.”
Yes, Boston was pissed off. And stuff like that.
“I heard the (Boston) bench yelling at me and saying stuff. I used to be simply specializing in myself, on the sport. And after each whistle, they had been simply coming at me. I used to be prepared and the referees had been giving them some penalties,” Legare stated.
He declined to inform PHN what the Bruins stated.
“You cannot say these issues on digital camera.”
Legare additionally scored the game-clinching purpose within the third interval, when he snapped a rebound previous Bruins goalie Reid Dyck. He completed an help in need of a Dino Ciccarelli or Matthew Barnaby hat trick.
Longtime good friend, juniors teammate, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins teammate Sam Poulin loved Legare’s scene-stealing efficiency, too. Both had been a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospects crew in 2019, the final time the event was held.
“It was nice. I do know he can do it. I believe he spent like quarter-hour within the field,” Poulin stated to laughter. “He cannot do that each recreation, however as soon as in a whereas, it is nice.”
It’s been a journey for Poulin and Legare, each 2019 draftees. Poulin was the first-rounder with the polished recreation. Legare, the uncooked challenge with scoring-winger potential.
“I’ve grown as a man a lot, simply specializing in what I can management,” Legare stated. “Sometimes once you’re a little bit youthful — I’m nonetheless 21 years outdated — however I really feel like I’m extra of a man now. Sometimes you focus an excessive amount of on issues you’ll be able to’t management, referees or no matter. On and off the ice.”
The Penguins scored three power-play objectives within the first interval and one other within the second. They held a commanding 4-0 lead earlier than permitting Boston again into the sport within the third interval.
In addition to drawing two penalties with onerous net-front play, Legare additionally took a few.
Poulin additionally performed a robust recreation, actually and figuratively. He owned the net-front on the Penguins’ energy performs, scoring the primary purpose from there, and even slipped behind the online to be a playmaker. The behind-the-net performs did not work, however he, too, created chaos with bodily play.
But he did not draw Boston into three roughing calls, one preventing name with an ejection, and piles of sick emotions, as Legare did.
“I find it irresistible. I imply, he was everywhere and he was simply enjoying onerous, in-your-face, and it was nothing low-cost. He was enjoying onerous hockey,” coach JD Forrest stated. “He simply acquired underneath all people’s pores and skin actual quick. They took some liberties with our goalie.
“He was proper there in (the offending Boston participant’s) face and he ended up scoring a huge purpose there on the finish. When you play as onerous as he did tonight and also you’re on the web that always and you discover these objectives, I used to be actually joyful for him.”
Legare didn’t have a good rookie season with the WBS Penguins in 2021-22. The child with heavy ft and a heavier wrister recorded solely 16 factors, together with seven objectives. He misplaced 10 kilos (once more) this summer time, however could have changed these kilos with feistiness.
Years, nay hours, from now, the Penguins’ win might be meaningless. They performed one recreation in a event, basically an exhibition. However, with GM Ron Hextall, president of hockey operations Brian Burke, a contingent of scouts, and Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan watching intently, Legare placed on a present.
He could not rating 20 objectives on the NHL degree. He could battle to get previous the AHL degree. But in sooner or later, he confirmed that he can do issues to stand out, even when he is not scoring. He agitated like a seasoned agitator.
While he did not rating till late within the third interval, a number of of the Penguins objectives could possibly be traced to Legare’s hard-nosed play.
It was enjoyable to watch, too.