A benchmark trip
By Justin Vézina
“We’ve got to have more games like this,” Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle summed up after Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Manitoba Moose.
The message was well received.
So much so that on Monday lunchtime, the Laval club used the same recipe to achieve the same result. They triumphed 5-2 over the Moose to sweep their two-game series against the Manitoba team in less than 24 hours.
‘Two wins together feels great,” concluded Houle at the end of the successful trip. “Scoring early and taking the lead means we don’t have to play catch-up hockey and save our energy. We showed we could play with the lead and that was good for us.”
The energy mentioned above will be invaluable for the rest of the week. The Rocket played two games of their five-game series in seven days.
“It feels good to be back on the winning track,” admitted forward Xavier Simoneau. “The guys have been incredible and it’s off to a good start with the little sequence.”
“Have the best fourth line in the league”
Nathan Légaré’s objective is quite simple: to transform the Rocket’s fourth line into the most feared one in the league.
The line the Quebecer forms with Jan Myšák and Riley McKay has certainly stood out for its fiery spirit in recent games. True, they lived up to the sports saying of being “tough to play against”, but each member got their name on the scoresheet during the series of games against the Moose.
On Sunday, Myšák and McKay set up Tobie Paquette-Bisson’s goal, while Légaré scored his first of the season. What’s more, the Montrealer’s goal was scored in a shorthanded situation.
So, when Légaré mentioned that he and his mates’ “mission” is “to be the best fourth line in the league”, it’s clear to see that his standards are high, both for effort and performance.
Off the mark
The Rocket’s stay in Winnipeg also saw a number of players score their first goal of the campaign.
First, on Sunday, Jared Davidson scored for the first time in at the pro level. He pulled off the feat in his second game with the Rocket, having been sidelined for a few weeks by injury.
“It’s a shame to be sidelined for a while, but I was able to watch videos to learn the system better and adjust. So it was good to score a goal when I came back,” he said.
In the process, the 21-year-old Albertan foiled his former teammate from the Western Junior League’s Seattle Thunderbirds, goaltender Thomas Milic. “I was hoping he’d play one of the two games. My first shot went right into his glove, so I wanted to get even,” he laughed. “It feels good to score.”
Then on Monday, Simoneau hit the target for the first time this season. In fact, he also scored his second goal of the campaign later in that same game.
“He’s excellent on the forecheck,” Houle began by explaining about the forward. “He’s got a good stick, he’s physical, he’s able to make plays in the offensive zone. Right now he’s going to the net and that’s where you score goals.”
Simoneau, Davidson and all their teammates return to action on Wednesday when the Rocket host the Belleville Senators. They’ll remain at Place Bell thereafter, as they take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, November 17, as part of the Hockey Fights Cancer game.
Single tickets: click here