Despite a thinned-out roster, Laval continued their strong month of March by picking up five of a possible six points in a trio of games that went to overtime.
The Week That Was
Mar. 20: Rocket 3, Bruins 2 (SO) – Cale Fleury has had a knack of scoring some timely goals this year and that continued in this one as he picked up the game-tying goal with a little less than five minutes left in regulation. Their shootout streak continued but this one went longer than usual as it took seven rounds before Hunter Shinkaruk picked up the winner.
Mar. 22: Comets 2, Rocket 1 (SO) – For the most part this season, Laval hasn’t had too many clunkers. This was one of the exceptions. They managed a whopping five shots over the final 45 minutes of play and if it wasn’t for Connor LaCouvee having his best performance of the season, it could have been really ugly. The shootout streak extended to four games in the loss.
Mar. 23: Rocket 3, Thunderbirds 2 (OT) – Laval’s offence came late in the second period in this one. Nikita Jevpalovs scored shorthanded with under two minutes to go to get the Rocket on the board and then Fleury had another timely marker, picking up the equalizer with four seconds left in the frame. However, Ouellet was able to put the shootout streak to an end as he scored in the opening minute of the extra frame.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Alex Belzile (15)
Assists: Alex Belzile (34)
Points: Alex Belzile (49)
+/-: Brett Lernout (+9)
PIMS: Alex Belzile (68)
Shots: Alex Belzile (158)
News And Notes
– Joe Cox suffered a knee injury against Providence and did not play the rest of the week. As a result, Laval recalled winger Morgan Adams-Moisan from ECHL. With Antoine Waked and Hunter Shinkaruk being injured against Utica, the Rocket signed centre Thomas Ebbing to a PTO deal. If the name sounds familiar, he played in 45 games with Laval last season.
– Karl Alzner missed all three games after his wife gave birth to a baby boy. T.J. Melancon was recalled from ECHL Norfolk to give Laval more defensive depth although he didn’t get into the lineup.
Last Game’s Lines:
Audette – Evans – Grenier
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Belzile
Kile – Pezzetta – Alain
Roy – Verbeek – Adams-Moisan
Ouellet – Lernout
Sklenicka – Fleury
Culkin – Lamarche
The Week Ahead
Mar. 27: vs Binghamton – Another one-game homestand begins and ends with the Devils. It wasn’t all that long ago that these two teams were jockeying to not be last in the North Division but since then, Binghamton has lost ten straight games while Laval has been decent. Not having Mackenzie Blackwood has been an issue for the Devils and with him up in New Jersey, the Rocket won’t be worrying about facing him.
Mar. 29: at Rochester – The Americans are still within striking distance of the top spot in the North Division with former farmhand Zach Redmond continuing to be one of their go-to players. There aren’t any high-end prospects on the roster (especially with Alexander Nylander up with Buffalo) but they have a very well-balanced attack with six players having at least 19 goals. (Laval would probably like to have one with that many, let alone six.)
Mar. 30: at Toronto – The Marlies don’t have quite the roster they did at the beginning of the year but they’ve settled into the number three seed in the division thanks to some steady goaltending from Michael Hutchinson. Jeremy Bracco leads the way offensively as the sophomore has jumped to the league lead in scoring and is currently on an eight-game point streak.
If I’m someone in Montreal’s management group, I have to be a bit concerned that Michael McNiven has basically been relegated to backup duties once again with Connor LaCouvee getting most of the recent starts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite pleased that LaCouvee is doing well and is playing himself into consideration for an NHL two-way deal but this season has been all about wasted opportunities for McNiven. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was briefly demoted to the ECHL to get some playing time before Charlie Lindgren’s injury put an end to that. When everyone has been healthy, he has been the backup. When everyone isn’t healthy, he’s still the backup. It’s not all bad news as McNiven has played better this season and as much as it hasn’t been a huge step in terms of development, it has been a step in the right direction nonetheless. However, that hasn’t translated to much playing time which has to be a bit concerning for Marc Bergevin and company.