With a pair of games against one of the teams they’re trying to catch in the North Division, the Rocket needed to sweep Belleville. They came up just short of doing so but they were at least able to gain a point on them in the standings.
The Week That Was
Dec. 9: Belleville 2, Laval 1 (SO) – This contest qualified as a goaltending duel as while both teams generated plenty of chances, both goaltenders (Mads Sogaard and Kevin Poulin) were at their best. The end result was only a goal each in the second period. Laval had a power play late in regulation that carried over into overtime that they weren’t able to capitalize on and that was costly as they weren’t able to score in the shootout either.
Dec. 10: Laval 7, Belleville 4 – This contest qualified as being anything but a goaltending duel. The Rocket scored five times in the first 16 minutes of the game, chasing Antoine Bibeau in the process. That was more than enough support for Joe Vrbetic who made his first career AHL start, got his first career win, and even his first career assist for good measure. Anthony Richard had a pair of goals to put himself firmly back in first in the league in goals scored.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Anthony Richard (17)
Assists: Jesse Ylonen (15)
Points: Anthony Richard (27)
+/-: Tory Dello (+6)
PIMS: Anthony Richard (29)
Shots: Anthony Richard (80)
News And Notes
– Laval provided an update on several injured players. Among them, Justin Barron is the closest to returning. Cayden Primeau and Danick Martel aren’t skating with the team and Nate Schnarr is still a few weeks away from returning. Jan Mysak will be out for at least a couple of months as well which is a tough blow to his rookie season.
– On top of those injuries, Xavier Simoneau took a stick to the face from Joel Teasdale in Friday’s game and had to be stretchered off. There’s no word on how much time he’ll miss.
– Despite missing so many players, Laval opted to recall as few as they could with Olivier Galipeau and John Parker-Jones getting the nod. They also added Pierrick Dube on Monday although they are still carrying a pretty light roster at the moment.
Last Game’s Lines:
Richard – Gignac – Condotta
Harvey-Pinard – Belzile – Ylonen
Abbandonato – Stephens – Bourque
Teasdale – Parker-Jones
Trudeau – Leskinen
Norlinder – Dello
The Week Ahead
Wednesday – at Utica – The good news? Laval, who has won both matchups so far this season, is tied with them in the standings which is notable since they have a lot of teams to catch. The bad news? Utica has five games in hand. The worse news? The Rocket will face an NHL goalie as Mackenzie Blackwood was just sent down for a rehab stint.
Saturday/Sunday – at Cleveland – In a rare pair of matinee games, Laval will look to gain some ground on the Monsters who sit in third in the North. They might be without defenceman David Jiricek who should be off to the World Juniors by then as the Czechs get their full roster together for pre-tournament games. Trey-Fix Wolansky has gone from being a secondary scorer to one of the top point-getters in the league while Emil Bemstrom is over the point-per-game mark as well. Former Hab Brandon Davidson recently signed with Cleveland as he looks to try to work his way back to the NHL.
There are always some players that seem to be on the outside looking in but before long, have established themselves as key players. That seems to be the case for Peter Abbandonato. Last season, he started in the ECHL, played well, got recalled into a limited role, and worked his way up to being a full-time regular. That earned him another deal for this year.
This time, Abbandonato stuck on the opening roster but was a healthy scratch several times early on as Laval once upon a time had a lot of depth (how quickly things can change on that front in the minors…). When he did play early, it was in a limited role and once again, he has played his way into a higher spot on the depth chart. The end result is that he has 16 points in 19 games, good for the second-highest point-per-game average on the team (tied with Jesse Ylonen; Anthony Richard is obviously first). Any time you can get top-six production from someone on an AHL deal, it’s a big boost for a team, even one as low in the standings as Laval is.
At 24, it’s not crazy to think that he could land an NHL deal if he keeps this up. And if he does keep it up, he’ll have earned one. In a year that hasn’t had a ton of bright spots so far, Abbandonato has certainly been one of them.