Rookie Anaheim Ducks defenceman Brandon Montour from Six Nations scores first goal in the NHL
Slick-skating Ohsweken native shows he’s ready for full-time position in the NHL
He’s going to score a lot more goals which resemble that one.
When Ohsweken’s Brandon Montour streaked in from the right point to one-time a crafty feed from Jakob Silfverberg and beat Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop last Thursday, it might have been his first NHL goal but it fit Montour’s scoring profile.
The 22-year-old rookie defenceman, an accomplished skater, was in full fly, knew he had backup moving in behind him, timed the shot perfectly and did the job he was summoned to do. Montour had been called up from the Anaheim Duck’s AHL affiliate in San Diego hours before and had taken a circuitous, tiring, route from one coast to the other and did not sleep before game time.
It was his second call-up of the year.
He spent last season, his first as a pro, entirely in San Diego — and he’s now played eight NHL games. The eighth included his first NHL assist in the Ducks’ 5-2 victory in Buffalo Thursday night, with a hearty contingent of f amily and friends making the trip across the river.
Montour, who spent three-plus years playing Junior B with the Brantford-Caledonia franchise, is making the Ducks’ scouting staff look prescient. He was chosen 55th overall in the 2014 draft (40 places above his ranking) when he was playing for a junior team in Iowa which had discovered him in Caledonia the previous year.
As a rookie pro last season, Montour finished second in scoring among AHL defencemen. With fellow NHL freshmen Shea Theodore and Jacob Larsson he is part of the defence corps’ future as the Ducks, like others in the west, start to evolve toward more of an eastern speed game from the ‘heavy hockey’ that has characterized the conference for years.
“The game is changing,” Montour agrees. “The skating has improved a lot and I feel like I’m a good enough skater to play in this league. The offensive game is continuing to grow and more offensive, smaller, guys like myself are getting a chance. “It’s good to see. “Sami (Vatanen) is out, that’s why I’m here, I know that, but I feel like I’m ready for this,” he added.
So do others around the team. Some suggest that Montour has become the leading light on the Ducks’ blueline horizon, that his ability to find the open man — which actually outranks his goalscoring touch — can re-ignite an offence that has become sluggish and uncreative.
“I understand the situation they’re at with defencemen, with the depth they have,” says Montour who has been mentioned in trade rumours, some of them involving the Maple Leafs.
Montour, who helped Six Nations win a Minto Cup, can’t remember the last time he picked up a lacrosse stick , “but I still love that sport. The players I grew up with are doing well and having success at it, and I’m excited and proud of them. I grew up playing both sports and it was tough to leave that. The offensive role and the hand-eye coordination definitely translate to hockey.”
Six Nations hockey fans hadn’t had much chance to see him play until this week, but he appreciates their following him from afar.
“It’s such a tight-knit community, and everybody supports everybody,” he says. “The support I’ve had the past couple of years. They have a Native American kid playing at a competitive level and they want to see him.”
Montour could be sent down when Vatanen is healthy, but it won’t be a permanent sentence or even an unpleasant one. In San Diego, he lives only seconds from the beach.
“Obviously you can’t beat San Diego,” he smiles. “But being up here is extra special.”
Anaheim Ducks’ Brandon Montour celebrates his first NHL goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday.