Laval’s second week of the season ended on a tough note but all in all, they had a good week as they picked up four points despite missing two of their top forwards.
The Week That Was
Oct. 20: Rocket 5, Moose 4 – This was a back-and-forth affair. Laurent Dauphin got Laval up early but that was erased with a pair of Manitoba markers. The Rocket took the lead back in the second only to lose it once again early in the third when Ville Heinola tied it up on the power play. However, Laval didn’t get flustered and quickly got the lead back when J-S Dea intercepted a pass and got one past Mikhail Berdin to give them the advantage for good with Brandon Baddock picking up the eventual winner near the midway mark.
Oct. 22: Rocket 4, Bruins 0 – This was a game of firsts for the Rocket. It was the first shutout of the season for Michael McNiven. Xavier Ouellet had his first goal of the season. Brandon Gignac had his first goal for Laval (in his season debut, no less) and Gianni Fairbrother had his first career professional goal (and game-winning marker). Let’s even add in first Laval assists for Gabriel Bourque and Louie Belpedio for good measure.
Oct. 23: Islanders 3, Rocket 0 – There weren’t as many firsts in this one aside from being the first time being shut out this season. Anatolii Golyshev had a pair while former Laval winger Chris Terry had the empty-netter late to seal the victory for Bridgeport. Jakub Skarek turned aside 37 shots while Cayden Primeau was solid as well, kicking aside 35 of 37 shots.
Goals: Laurent Dauphin (4)
Assists: 5 tied with (3)
Points: Laurent Dauphin (5)
+/-: Michael Pezzetta (+6)
PIMS: Brandon Baddock (9)
Shots: Dauphin/Martel/Schueneman (13)
News And Notes
– As expected, Ryan Poehling didn’t accompany Laval on their road trip. There remains no timetable for his return from what is believed to be a concussion or head injury.
– Jesse Ylonen also wasn’t able to travel on the trip due to COVID protocol. He’s in the process of getting vaccinated so until he’s two weeks past his second dose, he will be restricted to home games and road contests within Canada.
– The Rocket did get some help up front, however, as Alex Belzile cleared waivers. He made an immediate impact with two points in his first game and with the second point, he became the franchise leader in points with 84, surpassing Jake Evans.
– Tory Dello was injured against Providence. Carl Neill made his AHL debut against Bridgeport in Dello’s place.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Martel
Roy – Dauphin – Belzile
Pezzetta – Vejdemo – Bourque
Baddock – Gignac – Beaudin
Ouellet – Belpedio
Fairbrother – Schueneman
Paquette-Bisson – Neill
The Week Ahead
Oct. 27: vs Toronto – First, let’s get the exciting news out of the way first. There are only eight games against the Marlies this season, not the double-digit total we’ve been used to seeing. Toronto is without veteran goalie Michael Hutchinson who is currently up with the Maple Leafs so Erik Kallgren is their current starter. Newcomers Kirill Semyonov and Brett Seney lead the way offensively while Nick Robertson – a player some may be familiar with – is out long-term.
Oct. 29/30: vs Rochester – The Amerks are being led by some notable prospects with Jack Quinn and J.J. Peterka leading the team in scoring with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen getting plenty of playing time between the pipes (this is why Dustin Tokarski is Buffalo’s backup, to allow Luukkonen to play). Former Hab Brandon Davidson is on Rochester’s roster as well.
Michael Pezzetta is off to a nice start to his season but let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the idea that he needs to be recalled which I’ve seen suggested in a few places recently. First, there isn’t really a spot for him in the lineup and let’s also remember that only one of his three preseason games was good. The other two were nothing special. That, coupled with a few good minor league games, doesn’t really amount to a whole lot of anything.
The role Pezzetta is in right now – on the third line that’s a checking unit – is exactly where he needs to be right now. If he can show that he’s capable of succeeding in that role for an extended stretch, that’s when the idea of bringing him up makes sense. At that point, there should be some confidence that he can kill penalties (not just take them) and take a regular shift on the fourth line which is now Montreal’s checking trio. Bringing him up to play six minutes where he runs around and hits people may seem fun from a fan’s perspective but having to frequently juggle and double-shift players to accommodate it isn’t ideal from a coaching perspective (and that’s the perspective that matters).
Pezzetta is off to a good start but five games is far too early to say it’s time to bring him up. Let’s revisit this at game 25 as after three years of being a fringe depth piece for the Rocket, he has some work to do to boost his stock and a couple of good weeks is nowhere near enough.