After the start of their week was delayed by several players entering COVID protocol, Laval headed out on the road for a trio of games. They managed to pick up a big win in Rochester, however, that was sandwiched by a pair of tough losses.
The Week That Was
Feb. 18: Crunch 5, Rocket 2 – For the fourth straight time, these two teams faced off but it was pretty evident early that Laval didn’t have their ‘A’ game. Cayden Primeau was peppered early on, hardly the nice return to help build his confidence that everyone was hoping for. The Rocket managed to make a game of it with goals from Shawn St. Amant and Jesse Ylonen in the second to make it a one-goal game but that’s as close as they were able to get.
Feb. 20: Rocket 5, Americans 1 – With so many regulars out, there are plenty of opportunities for players to step up and several did so in this one. Cedric Desruisseaux scored his first career AHL goal while fellow ECHL call-ups Peter Abbandonato and Cam Hillis also scored. Sami Niku picked up his first of the season into the empty net while Primeau picked up his first victory since December 16th (and that was with Montreal, not Laval).
Feb. 21: Marlies 6, Rocket 2 – It has been a tough year for Michael McNiven and this was a tough return for him. In his first game back since coming off IR in Montreal, he struggled badly, allowing four goals in the first period that had the game basically over by the time the buzzer sounded to end the opening frame. Rafael Harvey-Pinard had his first goal in seven games while Louie Belpedio scored his seventh, a new career high.
|28||Shawn St. Amant||3||1||3||+1||7||2|
Goals: Jean-Sebastien Dea (15)
Assists: Roy/Ylonen (13)
Points: Jesse Ylonen (21)
+/-: Dello/Harvey-Pinard (+11)
PIMS: Louie Belpedio (55)
Shots: Danick Martel (88)
News And Notes
– A total of seven players entered COVID protocol with Gabriel Bourque exiting for Monday’s game. Five of the others are goalie Kevin Poulin, defencemen Josh Brook and Terrance Amorosa, and forwards Kevin Roy, Gabriel Bourque, and Justin Ducharme. Speculatively, the seventh is one of the injured players.
– Speaking of those injured players, the team provided an update on several of them. J-C Beaudin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, Gianni Fairbrother will miss one to two weeks with an upper-body injury, Lukas Vejdemo is out for two more weeks with his upper-body injury, while Alex Belzile (lower body) and Brandon Gignac (upper body) are out until mid-March.
– Laval brought back goalie Louis-Philip Guindon as an emergency backup although they were able to get Michael McNiven back from Montreal as well. They also recalled Shawn St. Amant and Cedric Desruisseaux from ECHL Trois-Rivieres and signed Mathew Santos to a PTO agreement. He played in a pair of games with Springfield of the AHL earlier this season.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Ylonen
Bourque – Martel – Fortin
Smith-Pelly – Abbandonato – St. Amant
Desruisseaux – Hillis – Teasdale
Ouellet – Belpedio
Niku – Dello
Paquette-Bisson – Neill
The Week Ahead
Feb. 23: at Toronto – The road trip wraps up with a rematch against the Marlies. Toronto added veteran goaltender Carter Hutton in a trade on Monday after he cleared waivers so he could make his Marlies debut in this one. Beyond that, it’s still the same team from Monday’s contest.
Feb. 25/26: at Belleville – After Wednesday’s game was postponed due to Laval’s COVID situation, they should be able to get these two games in. The Sens should get Filip Gustavsson back in net for this set as Matt Murray is nearing a return in Ottawa while Michael Del Zotto continues to average over a point per game on the back end. Egor Sokolov is on a nice run with nine points in his last seven games to take over the team lead in scoring.
I think it’s time to throw some credit to J-F Houle and his coaching staff. They have had a lot thrown at them this season in terms of losing a laughable number of players to injuries, recalls, and COVID protocol but you could probably count on one hand the number of games where they’ve been outclassed (and that includes the clunker against Toronto). Even when Laval has iced a lineup where they’re clearly undermanned, they’ve battled hard. It has been a bit of an odd year for development with not a lot of prospects down there (and the results have been mixed for those that are) but a situation like this is hardly ideal from a development standpoint. But from a competitiveness standpoint, they’ve impressed considering everything they’ve been up against this season. This has been a pretty good first impression for this new coaching group.