Following a summer that featured plenty of turnover both on and off the ice, Laval got their 2021-22 season underway last week as they split a home-and-home series with Belleville.
The Week That Was
Oct. 15: Rocket 6, Senators 2 – The home opener got off to a sluggish start as it took Laval until more than 11 minutes in to get a shot on goal and they were trailing at that point. However, a late goal from Michael Pezzetta tied it up after 20 minutes and Laval poured it on from there, scoring four goals in the middle stanza to take control and not look back from there.
Oct. 16: Senators 5, Rocket 2 – It was Belleville’s turn to return fire in their home opener as their four goals in the second period – including two from former Laval winger Jake Lucchini – were more than enough to secure the victory. Laurent Dauphin added a pair in the third to make it look more respectable.
Goals: Laurent Dauphin (2)
Assists: Michael Pezzetta (3)
Points: Michael Pezzetta (4)
+/-: Michael Pezzetta (+5)
PIMS: Danick Martel (6)
Shots: Martel/Vejdemo (5)
News And Notes
– Michael McNiven left Saturday’s loss in the second period due to cramping. He also changed his sweater number back to #40 after wearing #3 last season.
– Ryan Poehling also left Saturday’s game after taking a hit to the head. Head coach J-F Houle didn’t have an update after the game but early speculation is that he may have a concussion.
– Prior to the start of the season, Laval traded winger Jake Lucchini to Belleville for future considerations. On the surface, the move doesn’t make a lot of sense as Laval isn’t exactly loaded in extra forwards but as he was likely to be a scratch, this may have simply been done as a favour to him.
Last Game’s Lines:
Roy – Dea – Dauphin
Martel – Vejdemo – Bourque
Baddock – Beaudin – Pezzetta
Ouellet – Belpedio
Fairbrother – Schueneman
Paquette-Bisson – Dello
The Week Ahead
Oct. 20: vs Manitoba – Like Laval, the Moose are also off to a 1-1 start to their season. They don’t feature many NHL prospects of note although Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson have each seen some NHL action with the Jets. They’re a younger team, even between the pipes with long-time goalie Eric Comrie now up with Winnipeg; Mikhail Berdin is their new starter.
Oct. 23: at Providence – It’s a trip to the United States for the first time in over 19 months for Laval as they get a look at Boston’s farm team. Prospects Jack Studnicka and Jakub Lauko lead the way in scoring early on while veteran NHL fourth liner Chris Wagner is down there after clearing waivers earlier this month. Former Hab prospect Josiah Didier is also with Providence, his third season with the team.
Oct. 24: at Bridgeport – First, they’re no longer the Sound Tigers as they were rebranded to ‘Islanders’ for this season. They’re off to a tough start, losing all three of their games despite a strong veteran offensive core up front led by former Montreal farmhand Chris Terry along with Richard Panik, Austin Czarnik, and Andy Andreoff plus the likes of Michael Dal Colle and Anatolii Golyshev (who’s an intriguing prospect). With less than a 24-hour turnaround time, that could be a tricky game for the Rocket to end their week.
This was going to be a blurb about how getting sent down was going to be great for Ryan Poehling in terms of giving him a big role and plenty of ice time which is better than puttering around on Montreal’s fourth line…and then he got injured. So much for that idea, for now.
Instead, let’s look at another prospect in defenceman Gianni Fairbrother. I was surprised to see Laval not bring in another proven defender as beyond their top pairing of Xavier Ouellet and Louis Belpedio, there aren’t many (or any) proven options on their back end, just a pair of players who did well in a shortened 2020-21 season with a weaker level of competition. But lack of proven options is a big opportunity for Fairbrother who appears to be in line for significant minutes right away. With how he looked in the preseason with Montreal, sticking around longer than many expected, it’s not unrealistic to think that a good start to his season could have him in the mix for a look with the Habs at some point. On a Laval team that isn’t exactly loaded with prospects, he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.