By: Hamilton Bulldogs
06/29/2013 2:00 AM -
A CLOSER LOOK: MICHAEL BOURNIVAL
Fresh from leading his hometown Shawinigan Cataractes to the Memorial Cup, Bournival, who lived at home during his four seasons with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League club, moved on his own to a new, English-speaking city.
“Everything was new for me,” Bournival said recently. “It was hard to adjust to everything. Hamilton is an English town and I had always lived in a French town. I had to live alone after living with my family in junior.”
Bournival, a left-handed centre, took a while to find his way in his rookie campaign, recording three goals and 10 assists for 13 points through his first 37 games. But his offence picked up considerably over his final 32 games as he scored seven goals and added 13 assists for 20 points.
Bournival finished with 30 points, including 10 goals, in 69 games, good for third in team scoring, one point behind veteran centre Gabriel Dumont and rookie blueliner Nathan Beaulieu. Bournival’s two shorthanded goals tied with Dumont for the team lead.
“I looked at this as a development year,” said Bournival, who turned 21 on May 31. “I think I improved a lot on the ice. I learned a lot from the veterans here about working hard and how serious they are about what to do before games. I took a lot of advice from the coaches, too. I got comfortable as the season went on and every night I wanted to work hard and improve and that is something I focused on even during practices. I always stayed after practice to work on something.”
Bournival, who stands 5’11” and weighs 191 pounds, said the physical side of the AHL took him a while to get used to.
“Everybody here is older and faceoffs at the start of the season were tough because even the smaller guys are hard to play against because they are so strong. It might have taken me 20 games to get comfortable.”
After finishing his junior career as the captain of the best team in the Canadian Hockey League, Bournival said the level of competition in the AHL was an eye-opener too.
“Every team is good here, anybody can win. In junior the quality of the teams changes. In the AHL you need to work hard to win games every night.”
The Bulldogs won 29 games and finished last in the 30-team AHL, scoring a league-low 159 goals.
“It was a hard season for us,” said Bournival. “We know we had a young team but there are no excuses. We need to learn from this and we have to be ready to go next season. We don’t want to see a repeat of this season. Defensively we had good systems. The games were tight, but next season we will definitely need to score more. Our goaltending was awesome and they were always there for us. Next season we need to help them.”
Following the season Bournival was one of eight Bulldogs who were summoned to the Montreal Canadiens for the duration of their National Hockey League playoff run. Originally chosen by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bournival was acquired by the Canadiens on November 11, 2010 for Ryan O’Byrne.
“It’s harder at every level you go to,” said Bournival, who played two exhibition games for the Canadiens in 2011. “There aren’t a lot of spots in Montreal and if you want a spot there you need to train hard over the summer. We need to work hard to get that chance in the NHL. All the guys are going to do that and it’s those that work the hardest that will achieve that goal.”