Liam O’Brien had himself an impressive training camp with the Washington Capitals, dropping the mitts with some tough customers in the pre-season.
He’s carried that over into his National Hockey League debut Thursday.
O’Brien, 20 years old and never drafted, didn’t waste any time getting into his first regular season tilt, grabbing Montreal Canadiens scrapper Brandon Prust less than a minute into the second period.
O’Brien was reacting to a hit Prust threw on defenseman Jack Hillen behind the net. He quickly skated in, grabbed Prust and, well, it was pretty much on from there, as the two went toe-to-toe in a lengthy fight.
That’s an element of O’Brien’s game that got him noticed in camp. He got an invite to rookie camp, then earned a shot at training camp, where his toughness meshed with an ability to actually play hockey probably not many thought he had.
“He’s a player that’s demanded to be noticed,” Washington’s head coach Barry Trotz said earlier this week. “There’s still lots of stuff he needs to learn in the game, but at the same time he’s come in with injuries to a number of people in that role. He’s got an opportunity and he’s learning.”