Following the All-Star break, Laval was back in action with a pair of home games against teams ahead of them in the North Division. Even with a weakened roster, they made the most of it as they won both of them.
The Week That Was
Feb. 10: Laval 3, Syracuse 1 – With Laval’s roster being undermanned, they need their goalies to steal some games. Cayden Primeau did exactly that in this one, making 39 stops. Joel Teasdale was able to erase Syracuse’s lone goal with a power play tally late in the first while adding the empty-netter as well. Meanwhile, Mitchell Stephens got the best of his former organization with the winner early in the third.
Feb. 11: Laval 6, Utica 2 – Special teams were the key to victory in this one. The Rocket scored three shorthanded goals (that’s not a typo) including two in an eight-second span. Not a bad outcome on three Comet power plays. Meanwhile, with their own man advantages, they picked up two more tallies. Anytime you’re scoring five times on special teams, you’re almost certainly going to win the game.
Goals: Anthony Richard (22)
Assists: Peter Abbandonato (24)
Points: Anthony Richard (45)
+/-: Tory Dello (+11)
PIMS: William Trudeau (44)
Shots: Anthony Richard (136)
News And Notes
– Let’s get back to the Utica game for a moment. Laval was the first team to score three shorthanded goals in a game since December 1, 2019 when Providence (Boston’s farm team) accomplished the feat.
– Nicolas Beaudin and Jan Mysak both returned to the lineup which helped offset the losses of Jesse Ylonen and Alex Belzile back to Montreal.
– Laval loaned Pierrick Dube to Team France for the Four Nations Cup. He had a goal (France’s only tally) in two games. His absence resulted in the recall of Riley McKay from Trois-Rivieres while defenceman Santino Centorame was sent back to the Lions.
Last Game’s Lines:
Richard – Abbandonato – Teasdale
Simoneau – Gignac – Bourque
Condotta – Stephens – Schnarr
McKay – Parker-Jones
Trudeau – Schueneman
Norlinder – Dello
Galipeau – Bowey
The Week Ahead
Friday/Saturday/Monday – at Belleville – Laval is about to get quite familiar with the Senators once again. Belleville is currently without two goaltenders thanks to injuries in Ottawa although Cam Talbot should be back soon which would push Kevin Mandolese back down. The Rocket have just two wins in eight games in the head-to-head series thus far despite the fact that the Sens are nine points behind them in the standings. Former Laval winger Jake Lucchini leads the way with 11 points in the head-to-head thus far while Laval’s top two performers against Belleville – Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen – are both up with the Habs.
Don’t look now but Mitchell Stephens is starting to produce like he was expected to when he was one of the few free agents brought in to augment Laval’s roster over the summer. What’s particularly interesting about his recent success is that it has come from being in a checking role still. That’s obviously the role he had in the NHL (as recently as last season) but back in the days of his entry-level deal, he was a pretty productive scorer at the AHL level.
A good five-game stretch doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things but he is one of the players that’s capable of helping to offset the losses of the players recalled to Montreal. Perhaps being passed over several times has served as a motivator. Either way, Stephens has picked a good time to start to turn things around.