The Rocket return to the friendly confines of Place Bell this week for an important three-game homestand. The Belleville Senators are in Laval on Wednesday, November 28th (91.9 Sports) followed by back-to-back games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Utica Comets on Friday, November 30th (91.9 Sports / TSN 690 / RDS) and Saturday, December 1st (91.9 Sports / RDS), respectively.
The Rocket played three tight games on the road last week, but were unable to come out with a win. Laval got goals from Nikita Jevpalovs and Alex Belzile but lost in Utica on Wednesday, November 21st by a score of 3-2. Michal Moravcik scored his first goal as a member of the Laval Rocket during a 4-2 loss to the Charlotte Checkers on Friday, November 23rd. The two teams faced off again the following day, with Charlotte coming out on top by a score of 3-1. Michael McNiven stopped 18 of 20 shots he faced, while Michael McCarron scored his third goal of the season.
The Rocket will look to snap a five-game losing streak, starting Wednesday night against Belleville on VIVA condos urbains Night. Entering the week, the Senators occupy 5th place in the North Division with a record of 9-10-1-0, just three points ahead of the Rocket. Belleville won the first matchup between the two sides this season by a score of 2-1 on Halloween night.
Both weekend games also appear on the 2018-19 promotional calendar, starting with the Hand Clappers giveaway presented by Tourisme Laval on Friday night versus Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms enter the week sitting 5th in the Atlantic Division with a 10-6-0-2 record. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Rocket dropped its first game against the Phantoms last year by a score of 5-2 at home, but won the game in Lehigh Valley in overtime by a score of 4-3 a few weeks later.
Fans with tickets to the December 1st game versus Utica are in for a treat, as the second annual Teddy Bear Toss will take place that night, in collaboration with the Service de police de Laval (SPL). The Teddy Bear Toss was one of the highlights of the 2017-18 season. In last year’s game, fans anxiously awaited a goal from the home team until Niki Petti granted their wish just over 15 minutes into the first period. As is tradition, the home team’s opening goal triggered an avalanche of teddy bears being tossed onto the Place Bell ice. Over 3,200 teddy bears were collected last season, so Rocket fans have set the bar high for this year. The SPL will distribute the teddy bears to various community organizations to support families in need during the holiday season.
Joël Bouchard’s troops will look to avenge last week’s defeat to Utica, but they will have to be up to the task against the surging Comets, winner of their last three games. Laval and Utica have split the four games they’ve played so far this season. Despite the team’s rough stretch, the last couple of weeks, the Rocket remain only four points out of a playoff spot. With two divisional games this week, Laval has an opportunity to re-establish itself in the North Division standings and make a statement to its rivals.
Stats of the week…
|Buts / Goals||Michael Chaput (7)|
|Aides / Assists||Alex Belzile (13)|
|Points||Alex Belzile (15)|
|Tirs / Shots||Alex Belzile (56)|
|MBA / GAA||Charlie Lindgren (2.47)|
|%ARR / SVS%||Charlie Lindgren (.890)|
|1. Rookie Drake Batherson set the tone offensively in the early stages of the season for Belleville, with 20 points in 14 games, but has since been called up to the NHL by the Ottawa Senators…
|1. Lehigh Valley has two of the top five scorers in the AHL heading into the week – Phil Varone is 2nd in the league with 23 points, while Greg Carey ranks 4th with 22 points…
|1. Reid Boucher continues to build off his strong start to the season, and has goals in each of his last five games (eight goals)…
|2. Belleville has managed to make the most of its opportunities this year, ranking 29th in the AHL in shots per game (27.2).
|2. The Phantoms can generate offence from the backend as well. Defenceman TJ Brennan ranks 3rd among all defenceman with 20 points…
|2. Rookie defenceman Olli Juolevi has been a key cog of Utica’s 6th-ranked power-play (24%) – 8 of his 13 points have come with the man advantage…
|3. Belleville has struggled on the penalty kill, ranking 27th on the road (76.2%) and in overall penalty killing (76.5%)…||3. Lehigh Valley has been a force on special teams all season, ranking 7th on the penalty kill and on the power play…||3. Goaltender Thatcher Demko has been strong in his first two starts of the year after returning from injury, posting two wins with a 2.00 GAA and a .918 save percentage…