Jon Merrill and Brad Hunt knew they were going to get to play for the Golden Knights at some point this season. They just didn’t know when.
Then Sunday came and with three players on injured reserve and the lineup in flux, coach Gerard Gallant decided to give the two defensemen their shot.
Merrill and Hunt performed well for the most part as the defense protected goaltender Malcolm Subban in the Knights’ 3-1 win over Boston Sunday at T-Mobile Arena. Both were glad to get on the ice and leave the press box.
“You just try to stay ready until it’s your turn,” said Merrill, who logged 17 minutes, five seconds of ice time Sunday. “Being in practice isn’t the same as in a game; it’s not as fast as a game but you adjust and you go it and do your job.”
Hunt who played nearly 20 minutes against Boston, said it was just a matter of being patient.
“I’ve been through this before,” he said. “You just try and stay positive and support your teammates and when it’s your opportunity, go out and execute.”
Coach Gerard Gallant wouldn’t commit to whether both will remain in the lineup for Tuesday’s home game with Buffalo or if he’ll go back to Jason Garrison and Brayden McNabb, who had Sunday off.
“We’ll see,” Gallant said. “But I thought they both did a nice job and they did some good things out there.
“We’re fortunate to have some depth on defense and we can call on other guys when we need to.”
Draft picks update
The Golden Knights’ draft picks from June are playing well for their junior teams:
— Center Cody Glass, the first player taken by the Knights at No. 6 overall, has 17 points in nine games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Glass, who has four goals, is tied for eighth in scoring in the WHL.
— Nick Suzuki is lighting up the Ontario Hockey League. The Owen Sound Attack center who was taken by the Knights in the first round at No. 13 overall, had a five-point game Saturday in Owen Sound’s 12-6 win over Oshawa and leads the OHL in scoring with seven goals and 18 points.
— Defenseman Nic Hague, a second-round pick of the Knights, has two goals and five points with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL while center Jake Leschyshyn, another second-round selection, has a goal and two assists in five games for the Regina Pats of the WHL.
— Over in Sweden, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, who was taken in the first round at No. 15 overall, has two assists in 10 games with HV71 Jonkoping.