Coming off the heels of a hotly contested victory against the Buffalo Sabres less than 24 hours earlier, the New Jersey Devils prospects found themselves on the wrong side of a good old fashioned beat down at the hands of a veteran Pittsburgh Penguins prospect squad.
On Friday night, the Devils came out flying in the first period and out shot the Sabres, however today it was a different story as the Penguins raced out to a 20-5 shot advantage and a 3-0 score on the board. Devils goaltender Ken Appleby was left out to dry as a couple of unlucky bounces and a nice deflection had the Devils in an early hole.
New Jersey was also playing without number one overall pick, Nico Hischier, who was given the day off, and the effect was evident right from the outset. However, with Hischier sitting, two Devils who stood out the night before, were given the chance to have a bigger role and Marian Studenic and Jesper Bratt once again stood out, even if the results were not as favorable.
When asked about the slow start, Bratt was honest in his assessment.
“The first period, we just weren’t there, we didn’t play well in the first. The second, it picked up a little bit, but, I didn’t think we played 100% in the first and the third so it wasn’t our best game, but sometimes the game is like that and you got to find a way to win the game even if you played good or bad. It definitely wasn’t our best game.
Your goal was quite nice, can you just break down how that play developed?
I didn’t have the best speed when I got the puck, so, I just tried to make a move to make the defender not know what I was going to do and I got a little bit of space because the D gave me a little bit of room, so I just skated around him and tried to shoot on the far side and it was a good shot this time, so, it was nice to get a goal there.
Yesterday Coach Kowalsky said that you and Marian Studenic were the best players on the ice. What does it mean to hear that from the coach when you start in the shadow of Hischier and Butcher?
Of course it means a lot. If the coach says (about yesterday) I’m one of the best guys on the ice of course it feels great to hear that. But today I wasn’t one of the best in this game, but it’s always nice to hear that from a coach that has a lot of routine and is a very good coach so, of course that means a lot. I tried to play the same game today but it just didn’t work today.
Moving from the game, if you don’t make the NHL team this year, you’re ticketed for London of the Ontario Hockey League. How did the decision come about to go to London?
London is one of the best junior hockey teams. It’s a great organization and it’s a great city in London and it’s a great place to play. I’ve been in London for two weeks and they took care of me in a great way. All the practices and everything, both on and off the ice has been great. I wanted to come here to North America and play here because hopefully one day I’m going to play in the NHL if I’m lucky and if I work hard and do everything it takes. London was a great opportunity for me and an experience, so I’m glad to be there.
Have you spoken to (Knights Head Coach) Dale Hunter at all? And has he defined a role that you would fill for the Knights?
Actually, I haven’t talked to him that much. We’ve only spoke to each other in the practices but we haven’t been talking too much. But in the little bit that I have, he seems to be a great guy and a great coach. The practices with him have been great, so I’m really looking forward to the season, playing in an amazing arena in front of 9,000 fans every night and on a team that has a chance to win it all.