Laval made a nice comeback to start their week on a winning note but they weren’t able to follow it up one night later as they split their pair of games against Cleveland.
The Week That Was
Feb. 28: Rocket 5, Monsters 4 – This one didn’t get off to a good start as Laval was asleep at the switch early on and were down by a pair before the five-minute mark of the first. The Rocket and Monsters traded a pair of goals in the second so it looked as if it was going to be a two-goal deficit heading into the third. However, Hayden Verbeek added his second of the game with two seconds left in the frame to put them within striking distance before Lukas Vejdemo and Jake Evans added goals in the final period to complete the comeback.
Mar. 1: Monsters 4, Rocket 1 – Both teams struggled to do much early on as they combined for a whopping eight shots in the first. However, Cleveland picked it up after that but despite a flurry of shots, the only goal of the second was a shorthanded tally by Evans. Unfortunately for Laval, Mark Letestu scored in the opening minute of the third and then added a pair of empty-netters to prevent the Rocket from picking up the two-game sweep.
Goals: Byron Froese (14)
Assists: Alex Belzile (30)
Points: Alex Belzile (43)
+/-: Brett Lernout (+11)
PIMS: Alex Belzile (64)
Shots: Alex Belzile (136)
News And Notes
– With the departures of Michael Chaput (trade) and Dale Weise (recall), Laval brought back Marc-Olivier Roy for his second in-season PTO. They also signed winger Joe Cox out of Florida of the ECHL where he was among the leading scorers in the league. It’s his first stint in the AHL.
– The AHL trade deadline has come and gone and for once, Montreal’s farm team made a move, sending defenceman Adam Plant to Milwaukee in exchange for future considerations. Plant has only played in 14 games with Laval this season and it appears they’re content with Ryan Culkin serving as the extra defender the rest of the way.
– Noah Juulsen has resumed skating but won’t be back this season. Between this and the Plant trade, even the defensive depth is stretched pretty thin now.
Last Game’s Lines:
Audette – Evans – Belzile
Kile – Vejdemo – Alain
Roy – Martineau – Grenier
Pezzetta – Verbeek – Cox
Alzner – Lernout
Ouellet – Fleury
Sklenicka – Lamarche
The Week Ahead
Mar. 6/8: vs Toronto – The Marlies have lost a few key pieces as of late with Sam Gagner being dealt to Edmonton, Trevor Moore getting recalled after the trade deadline, while Calle Rosen is dealing with an injury. They’re still faring pretty well as of late in spite of this although they’ve lost ground on the division lead. They’re one of three teams battling for the final two spots in the North Division playoff picture so they have plenty to play for. (Laval, meanwhile, is basically just hoping to not finish last.)
Mar. 9: vs Utica – The Comets are one of the other teams in that battle for a playoff spot. They recently added Marek Mazanec from the Rangers, giving them a legitimate starting goalie for the stretch run while veterans Reid Boucher and Tanner Kero continue to lead the way offensively. They’ll also be treating this game as a must-win.
If you think Laval’s lineup is young and unproven now, don’t be surprised if it skews more in that direction in the coming weeks. Last year, the Rocket signed a bunch of players to ATO deals and considering their lack of depth at every position other than in goal, they’re probably going to be doing so once again this season. With college and junior seasons soon coming to an end and even if the Habs aren’t overly active in that market, their farm team almost assuredly will be. Last year, they brought in Tye Felhaber who now leads the OHL in goals (and just signed with Dallas) so while most of the players they bring in will seem irrelevant, they’re probably going to be worth keeping an eye on.