Getting shots on goal wasn’t a problem for Laval last week as they averaged over 45 per game. However, it didn’t result in as much success in the standings as they were hoping for as they played to a 1-1-1 record.
The Week That Was
Jan. 4: Laval 6, Manitoba 3 – The Rocket started off 2023 in style with what could be called one of their easier victories of the season. They had four goals before the five-minute mark of the second and on most nights, that’s more than enough to get the win. Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored once in each period to pick up the hat trick while Rem Pitlick picked up four assists as they make their case to be recalled.
Jan. 6: Manitoba 5, Laval 4 (OT) – This one was far from easy. This time, Laval was down by three with less than six minutes to go. While teams often pull their goalies in these situations, rarely does it amount to sparking a comeback. This was one of the exceptions as Alex Belzile, Corey Schueneman, and Harvey-Pinard all scored with the goalie out, the last two coming with less than 80 seconds left. However, they were only able to get the single point out of it as Jansen Harkins, fresh off being demoted by Winnipeg, potted the winner midway through the extra session.
Jan. 8: Toronto 4, Laval 2 – Joseph Woll has done well for the Marlies since returning from injury. He was even better in this one. Laval put up a stunning 58 shots in this one, including 28 in the final period but could only score once in that frame. Meanwhile, it was a tough showing for Kevin Poulin who posted a save percentage of just .765 in the game. Sometimes, a team just gets out-goalied. This was one of those games.
Goals: Anthony Richard (18)
Assists: Jesse Ylonen (19)
Points: Anthony Richard (31)
+/-: Beaudin/Dello/Pitlick (+7)
PIMS: William Trudeau (34)
Shots: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (117)
News And Notes
– Laval welcomed defenceman Nicolas Beaudin back from what was a shorter-than-expected stint at the Spengler Cup. Unfortunately, he was injured in the game against Toronto.
– The bad injury news continues as blueliner Tory Dello and centre Brandon Gignac will miss four-to-six weeks with lower-body injuries.
– Needing more depth on the back end, Laval signed Eric Williams to a PTO agreement. The 27-year-old played in 24 games with AHL Chicago last season, comprising the bulk of his time at this level (he also had two games with Charlotte in 2019).
– With Cayden Primeau returning to the lineup, Joe Vrbetic was sent back to Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL. However, with Primeau getting recalled on Monday, Vrbetic is now back with the team.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Belzile – Pitlick
Condotta – Stephens – Ylonen
Teasdale – Abbandonato – Bourque
Simoneau – Schnarr – Parker-Jones
Trudeau – Schueneman
Norlinder – Beaudin
Galipeau – Centorame
The Week Ahead
Wednesday – at Rochester – This isn’t the best time to be facing the Amerks as they’re one of the hotter teams in the East right now and they just got starting goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen back from Buffalo. They also recently added Lawrence Pilut on the back end after the Sabres got him through waivers. Rochester only has three double-digit scorers as their attack is a bit more spread out compared to Laval who has a few players with a good point total before a steep drop-off.
Friday – at Syracuse – Laval picked up a pair of wins against the Crunch late last month and will be getting them at a time when they’ve lost a couple of goalies to injuries recently. Darren Raddysh, a defenceman, continues to pace them offensively and even after slowing down a bit compared to his early-season pace, he’s still averaging a point per game since December. Not too much has changed on the roster front for them since their matchups a couple of weeks ago.
Saturday – vs Cleveland – The Monsters have given Laval some challenges offensively this season, notching 15 goals in their first four matchups with Trey Fix-Wolansky picking up points on nine of those. David Jiricek, fresh off a strong performance at the World Juniors, is back with Cleveland and he has also been dominant against the Rocket thus far with six points.
At the age of 27, no one is thinking of Corey Schueneman as a legitimate NHL prospect. However, since he started his professional career later than most, it’s possible that there’s still a bit of developmental runway left.
That’s what makes his current situation so critical. As a result of injuries and recalls, he is pretty much the only proven defenceman on Laval’s back end right now. He is going to be the one that logs the toughest minutes defensively and will still be counted on to produce a little bit. If Schueneman can have some success in that role, it should garner the attention of some pro scouts who might be interested in getting him into their system to see if they can coax that extra little bit out of him. (I’m not sure Montreal is the cards for him next season; I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go elsewhere.)
Despite having just limited professional experience, Schueneman is already in that fringe territory. But Laval’s unfortunate situation defensively is his gain. If he does well with this extra ice time coming his way, he might have a shot at pushing for a seventh defender role in the NHL. Otherwise, he’ll likely be locked in as merely organizational filler. I’m intrigued to see how he fares with this chance.