Laval’s second half of their season-opening series against Belleville didn’t go as well as the first half but the Rocket still managed to pick up a win in one of the two games.
The Week That Was
Feb. 16: Senators 4, Rocket 1 – Laval got off to another good start and they were completely dominant in the first period. However, they could only manage a single goal (Jordan Weal’s first of the year) which held up until just past the midway mark of the second when Logan Shaw tied it up. Things completely went off the rails for a few minutes in the third as countless unnecessary mistakes were made and the end result was three fairly quick goals for Belleville to give them their first victory of the season.
Feb. 19: Rocket 5, Senators 2 – Ryan Poehling had a busy first period in this one, scoring on his first shift of the game, giving Gianni Fairbrother an assist on his first career professional shift. He then made a perfect pass to Cody Goloubef for the second goal of the game; in case you’re not familiar with Laval’s roster yet, Goloubef plays for Belleville. Corey Schueneman (who’s quietly off to a strong start) had his first goal in a Laval uniform while Rafael Harvey-Pinard had his first multi-goal game which allowed the Rocket to pull away in the third.
Goals: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (3)
Assists: Jordan Weal (4)
Points: Jordan Weal (5)
+/-: Otto Leskinen (+5)
PIMS: Baddock/Blandisi (6)
Shots: Otto Leskinen (13)
News And Notes
– Sam Vigneault was one of the more notable AHL free agent signings but with so many players ahead of him on the depth chart, he asked for and was granted his release. He’s the second Laval player to do that in 2021 (Pascal Aquin was the other). He signed with Eispiraten Crimmitschau in Germany’s second division.
– Charlie Lindgren was sent to Laval for what is effectively a conditioning stint with Michael McNiven going to Montreal’s taxi squad for the time being.
– Also recalled to the taxi squad were Michael Frolik as expected along with Cale Fleury and Alex Belzile.
Last Game’s Lines: (vs Belleville)
Frolik – Poehling – Ylonen
Dauphin – Vejdemo – Khisamutdinov
Teasdale – Weal – Harvey-Pinard
Mysak – Lynch – Baddock
Olofsson – Brook
Leskinen – Schueneman
Fairbrother – Ouellet
The Week Ahead
Feb. 22/24/26/27: vs Manitoba – Technically, the first of these has already been played (and the second may be done depending on when you’re reading this) but their recap will be next week. The Moose aren’t the strongest of teams on paper although they did get a huge boost defensively when Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg were sent down. Similar to Laval benefiting from Jan Mysak (and Jacob LeGuerrier) being available with the OHL not starting yet, Manitoba also features a notable OHL prospect in Cole Perfetti who played a big role for Canada at the World Juniors. Laval also catches a break with Moose starter Eric Comrie in quarantine after Winnipeg reclaimed him off waivers from New Jersey.
It must not be too fun for Vasily Demchenko right about now. The Habs signed him last year out of the KHL so clearly, they see something they like in him (or at least Vincent Riendeau saw something). But with no ECHL affiliate and a short AHL season, there is no real path to playing time. Cayden Primeau is going to get most of the workload and from Montreal’s perspective, that’s absolutely the right move. But that leaves Demchenko and McNiven (and even Charlie Lindgren for conditioning) basically fighting for a handful of starts and then alternating who gets to dress as the backup. While Demchenko was coming off a quiet year in Russia, he was still a starter in that league. In hindsight, I can’t help but wonder if he regrets coming to North America for this season as he could have stayed home and still played a regular role in the KHL compared to seeing probably a handful of games at most here. Lots can change over the next couple of months and if someone gets hurt, all bets are off. If that doesn’t happen though, chances are that after being in Montreal’s organization for a full season, he’ll be just as much of a question mark as he is now.