Offence was hard to come by for Laval last week as they weren’t able to average two goals per game in their three contests. Cayden Primeau’s shutout against Springfield secured them one victory but that was all they were able to accomplish.
The Week That Was
Oct. 19: Laval 2, Springfield 0 – After a tough showing in the home opener, Primeau bounced back with a stellar performance to get Laval in the win column. It took until the third period for the Rocket to get on the board when Gabriel Bourque scored four minutes in and Tory Dello fired home an empty-netter from the defensive zone to seal the victory.
Oct. 21: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2, Laval 1 – Things got off to a rough start as Primeau allowed two in the opening period. While he was able to shut the door the rest of the way (and Laval’s defence was much better in the second half), the deficit was too much to overcome as Bourque was the only other one to score, spoiling former Hab Dustin Tokarski’s shutout bid.
Oct. 22: Bridgeport 5, Laval 2 – The Rocket trailed again after 20 minutes and former Hab Chris Terry doubled the Islanders’ advantage through 40 minutes, again creating a gap that was too much to overcome as it’s pretty clear already this Laval team is going to struggle offensively. Rafael Harvey-Pinard got one back early on the power play but they couldn’t get any closer than that.
Goals: Gabriel Bourque (4)
Assists: Mattias Norlinder (3)
Points: Gabriel Bourque (4)
+/-: Belzile/Dello/Schnarr (+2)
PIMS: Mitchell Stephens (15)
Shots: Jesse Ylonen (18)
News And Notes
– With Cayden Primeau being returned to Laval prior to their first game of the week, Joe Vrbetic was sent back down to Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL.
– Going the other way was Emile Poirier who was recalled from Trois-Rivieres and then was immediately released. Presumably, this is to pursue an opportunity overseas. More on this situation in the Final Thought.
– It hasn’t been a great start for Brandon Gignac. He was benched for part of the game against the Penguins before being a healthy scratch the following night. Not a great start to his two-year deal, that’s for sure.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Belzile – Ylonen
Richard – Stephens – Bourque
Condotta – Mysak – Martel
Teasdale – Abbandonato – Dube
Leskinen – Barron
Norlinder – Dello
Trudeau – Bowey
The Week Ahead
Wednesday vs Belleville – Laval gets another crack at their division rival after losing the first two games of the season to the Sens. Belleville just lost Kevin Mandolese to recall; he had taken over as the starter after Mads Sogaard was injured in the opener against the Rocket. Former Rocket winger Jake Lucchini is off to a hot start with seven points in his first five games while top rookie Ridly Greig, who was also injured in the season-opener, hasn’t played since. This is the first game of a season-long six-game homestand for Laval.
Friday/Saturday vs Rochester – The Amerks enter the week tied for first in the North Division but Laval might be catching them at a good time as two of their top defencemen, Lawrence Pilut and former Hab Kale Clague, were recently recalled to Buffalo. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has played every second between the pipes this season as the Sabres want their top goalie prospect (who likely will be with the big club next season) as much playing time as possible. Ideally, Cayden Primeau will get that type of usage at some point.
One of the more surprising signings this offseason was Laval adding Emile Poirier. Sure, it’s nice to have a serviceable veteran in the system but that was the problem. He was a veteran and as you may recall, there’s a pretty strict limit on how many of those can play and it was pretty clear early on he’d be the odd one out that would either be a healthy scratch or bide his time in Trois-Rivieres. The fact that he signed a two-way AHL deal appeared to be a sign that both sides understood what was going to happen and that he was going to be in the ECHL to start and come up when a veteran lineup spot opened up.
Now, after not even getting into a game with the Lions, Poirier got his release, presumably to pursue an opportunity overseas. It then begs the question, what was the point in signing in the first place? He clearly understood that he’d almost certainly be starting in the ECHL; he wouldn’t have accepted his contract otherwise. He signed with Laval in mid-July when there were plenty of viable spots available internationally so it’s not as if he signed with the Rocket because it was the only option available; that simply wasn’t the case. There’s a good market for decent wingers like him overseas and players like him signed well after July 19th (the day he signed). Things played out according to plan and a week in, that wasn’t good enough anymore? If the point of signing with Laval was to play at home, he didn’t stick around long enough to do it. If the point was to play in a prominent role, he should have signed elsewhere to begin with. If there was another point altogether to this, I’m not sure what it was.
It was a minor league signing and I’ve frankly spent too much time already pondering this but I’m honestly perplexed about what happened here. The signing didn’t make a lot of sense at the time. Somehow, Poirier’s release makes even less sense to me.