Laval’s season didn’t get off to a good start as they were only able to manage a single point in their two games against division rival Belleville while getting some bad news on the injury front.
The Week That Was
Oct. 14: Belleville 6, Laval 5 (OT) – The fans got their money’s worth at the home opener as it had just about everything. It featured the Rocket scoring three times in the third period, two of which came on special teams as Jesse Ylonen (PPG) and Rafael Harvey-Pinard (SH) got the game within one before Gabriel Bourque tied it up with less than four minutes left. However, Rourke Chartier got the Senators the extra point with the winner with just 28 seconds left in the extra session.
Oct. 15: Belleville 6, Laval 3 – A pair of goals midway through the second from Bourque and Alex Belzile got things all squared up heading into the third period. Unfortunately, that’s as close as they got as enforcer Scott Sabourin scored the winner with 5:30 left while the Sens added a pair of empty-netters to seal the victory.
Goals: Gabriel Bourque (2)
Assists: Mattias Norlinder (2)
Points: 5 tied with (2)
+/-: Dello/Dube (+2)
PIMS: Mitchell Stephens (15)
Shots: Danick Martel (9)
News And Notes
– Laval’s back end took an early hit when it was announced that Gianni Fairbrother’s season came to an end due to a knee injury sustained in the final preseason game against Belleville.
– The Rocket recalled Joe Vrbetic from ECHL Trois-Rivieres. Cayden Primeau has been returned to Laval already after backing up in Montreal on Monday so for the time being, they’re carrying three goalies.
– Mitchell Stephens received a two-game suspension for a first-period incident in the opener against Belleville. The first of those has already been served so he’ll be eligible to return Friday against the Penguins.
– Following the home opener, Filip Mesar was sent to Kitchener of the OHL.
– Alex Belzile was named team captain while Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Gabriel Bourque were appointed as the alternates.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Belzile – Ylonen
Richard – Gignac – Martel
Simoneau – Mysak – Bourque
Condotta – Schnarr – Dube
Leskinen – Barron
Norlinder – Dello
Trudeau – Bowey
The Week Ahead
Wednesday vs Springfield – It’s an early opportunity for some revenge after being eliminated by the Thunderbirds in the playoffs…at least for the half of the team that was actually there at that time. Springfield has turned over a lot of their roster as well although Joel Hofer (the starting goalie) along with former Hab prospect Will Bitten are among those that are still around from that series.
Friday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – The Penguins are who former Laval captain Xavier Ouellet plays for now after signing a two-year deal with them at the beginning of free agency. They also have former Devil Ty Smith who is seeing his first AHL action after spending two seasons in New Jersey. He was part of the return in the John Marino trade which Pittsburgh did in order to free up the cap space to acquire Jeff Petry.
Saturday at Bridgeport – The Islanders look like they have a more veteran-laden team than usual this season (although it’s just two games in). Former Laval winger Chris Terry is one of their veterans while Cory Schneider is back between the pipes. Bridgeport does have Aatu Raty on their roster who you might recall as being a highly-touted centre leading into the 2021 draft before a tough season sent him towards the back of the second round.
Lost in the original cuts from Laval’s roster early in their camp was Cam Hillis. With that cut, that might very well have been the final nail in the coffin with regards to his status as a prospect with the Habs. Considering the Rocket are carrying four extra forwards right now, it’s not as if he’s on the verge of a recall either. With some of the others that went down with him, he might not be first among the forwards in Trois-Rivieres either.
If I was assigning trade odds at this point, I’d have Hillis pretty much at the top of the list as a result. There’s no value in the Habs just burying him with the Lions for the season and non-tendering him in June. That’s where this is clearly heading. One thing former GM Marc Bergevin was good at early in his tenure was identifying the prospects that needed a change of scenery, flipping them either for a prospect in a similar situation or an older player that cleared waivers and can be stashed in the minors. It’s time for one of those moves to happen with Hillis. It’s pretty clear he’s not in the plans for this season let alone the future so if they can find a way to give him a chance elsewhere, it’d be good of them to do. At this point, there’s nothing to lose.