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Laval entered last week with an opportunity to control their playoff destiny if they could pull off a pair of regulation wins over Belleville.  They weren’t able to do it, however, falling both times, allowing the Senators to get the final spot.

The Week That Was

Apr. 19: Belleville 3, Laval 2 – The game got off to a nice start for Laval with Mitchell Stephens scoring in the first and Lias Andersson adding one early in the second; the veterans were coming through in the clutch.  But as has often been the case this season, holding a lead was too much of a challenge.  The Sens answered barely a minute after Andersson’s goal and then tied it up in the third off a puck-over-glass penalty after Laval somehow managed to avoid getting scored on following some bad penalties earlier.  With the Rocket having to win in regulation, they had to pull the goalie despite the tie and Belleville potted the winner with a second to go.

Apr. 20: Belleville 2, Laval 1 – While the Rocket didn’t have anything to play for but pride, they played rather well in this game, especially early on where they were all over the Senators.  However, Leevi Merilainen stole the show, stopping 39 of 40 shots with the only goal to beat him coming off the stick of William Trudeau.  Belleville, meanwhile, picked it up in the third and scored twice in less than two minutes early on and that was the difference, ending Laval’s season on a losing note.



# Player GP G A +/- SOG PIMS
3 Jayden Struble 1 0 1 +1 0 0
4 Tobie Bisson 2 0 1 +1 3 0
10 Joshua Roy 1 0 0 -2 2 2
12 Filip Cederqvist 2 0 0 E 3 0
15 Sean Farrell 2 0 0 +1 4 0
16 Arnaud Durandeau 1 0 0 E 2 0
17 Luke Tuch 2 0 0 -1 2 0
19 Emil Heineman 2 0 0 -1 2 0
20 Gabriel Bourque 2 0 0 E 2 2
21 Riley Kidney 2 0 1 +1 4 4
24 Logan Mailloux 2 0 0 -2 4 2
27 Mitchell Stephens 1 1 0 E 3 2
28 Lias Andersson 2 1 1 E 9 0
29 Mattias Norlinder 1 0 0 E 0 0
34 Jacob Perreault 2 0 0 E 0 5
37 Brandon Gignac 1 0 0 -1 0 0
42 Lucas Condotta 2 0 0 E 3 2
44 Olivier Galipeau 1 0 0 E 5 0
52 Justin Barron 2 0 0 +1 2 0
61 Philippe Maillet 2 0 0 -1 2 2
63 Florian Xhekaj 2 0 0 E 3 0
64 David Reinbacher 1 0 1 +1 2 0
68 Riley McKay 1 0 0 E 0 12
84 William Trudeau 2 1 0 E 8 4


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
71 Jakub Dobes 0-1-0 2.07 .933 0
73 Kasimir Kaskisuo 0-1-0 2.02 .913 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Philippe Maillet (21)
Assists: Brandon Gignac (36)
Points: Brandon Gignac (55)
+/-: Tobie Paquette-Bisson (+21)
PIMS: Riley McKay (148)
Shots: Logan Mailloux (154)

News and Notes

– Joshua Roy was among the players returned from Montreal after their season ended.  However, he only played the first game of the week as he was suspended for one game for elbowing incident in that contest.

– Jayden Struble, Mitchell Stephens, and David Reinbacher all missed Saturday’s game due to minor injuries.

– With his early penalty and ejection on Saturday, Riley McKay moved up to fourth in the AHL in penalty minutes.

– Tobie Paquette-Bisson landed in the top 20 in league-wide plus/minus, checking in at 19th with a +21 rating.

– Logan Mailloux led all rookie defencemen in points this season and finished tied for seventh league-wide with two players.  One of those was Seattle prospect Shane Wright.

Last Game’s Lines:

Andersson – Maillet – Heineman
Farrell – Kidney – Durandeau
Tuch – Condotta – Bourque
Cederqvist – Xhekaj – McKay

Trudeau – Mailloux
Paquette-Bisson – Barron
Norlinder – Galipeau

The Summer Ahead

With no games on the schedule to look at, let’s instead look at the list of pending free agents for the Rocket this summer.  As is often the case, it’s a pretty long list.

Under NHL Contract – RFA: F Lias Andersson, D Justin Barron, F Filip Cederqvist, D Mattias Norlinder

Under NHL Contract – UFA: F Arnaud Durandeau, D Brady Keeper, F Philippe Maillet, F Mitchell Stephens

AHL Contracts – F Gabriel Bourque, F Jared Davidson, G Zach Emond, D Olivier Galipeau, D Chris Jandric, G Kasimir Kaskisuo, G Strauss Mann, F Riley McKay, D Chris Merisier-Ortiz, F Jakov Novak, D Tobie Paquette-Bisson, F John Parker-Jones, D Miguel Tourigny, G Joe Vrbetic, F Alex-Olivier Voyer, F Nolan Yaremko

Final Thought

As management assesses what did and didn’t go right this season, they’ll have lots to ponder.  Several prospects played well and didn’t look out of place in Montreal on recall.  As usual, some veterans played key roles while others underachieved.  They’ll be assessing the good and bad of their signings but there’s one bad decision they need to learn their lesson from.

Expecting one of Cayden Primeau or Casey DeSmith to make it to Laval in training camp, the team didn’t opt to sign a veteran to pair with Jakub Dobes.  That resulted in Strauss Mann getting the backup job by default.  If you’ve been following the team, you know what happened next.  Both netminders struggled early and often, putting the team behind the proverbial eight-ball in the standings, a deficit that they didn’t recover from.  They eventually fixed the mistake by adding Kasimir Kaskisuo midseason but by then, the damage had been done.

That can’t happen again this summer.  There shouldn’t be a question mark of someone being sent down from the big club in the fall so Laval needs to go get a quality veteran to work with Dobes.  Not necessarily to take away starts from him but to provide above-average goaltending in his starts and be the logical recall option if one of Primeau or Samuel Montembeault get injured in Montreal. 

The good news is that there are always several of those netminders available each summer.  Most will require an NHL contract but some – perhaps even Kaskisuo again – won’t.  Either way, one needs to be in the fold by training camp at the latest, early in free agency in the best-case scenario.  Avoiding the early-season collapse between the pipes next season would give Laval a strong opportunity to get themselves back in the playoff picture a year from now.