The Rocket is back home for a three-game home stand at Place Bell that begins Wednesday, January 16 versus the Belleville Senators at 7:30 p.m. (RDS, 91.9 Sports, TSN 690), followed by back-to-back games versus the Cleveland Monsters on Friday, January 18 (91.9 sports) and Saturday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m. (RDS, 91.9 sports).
Joël Bouchard’s players flew out of the gates to start the calendar year, picking up 5 of a possible 6 points to start the month of January against Belleville and Rochester. This past weekend the Rocket headed west for two matchups with the Manitoba Moose. The Moose got the upper hand in the first game on Thursday, January 10, taking it 4-0. Laval bounced back on Saturday, January 12, winning a thrilling offensive battle by a score of 6-5 in a shootout.
The Moose is the only Western Conference team the Rocket will face this season. During Saturday’s game, the two sides traded first-period goals, with Alex Belzile and Daniel Audette finding twine for the Rocket. Antoine Waked scored his 2nd of the season early in the middle frame to give Laval the lead, but the Moose scored twice to take a 4-3 lead into the third period. Audette scored his second of the contest early to tie things up, and Nikita Jevpalovs gave Laval the lead minutes later. The Moose ultimately were able to tie it up late and force overtime, but Audette capped off his three-point night with the lone goal of the shootout as Charlie Lindgren stopped all three Moose shooters to secure the victory. Belzile, Waked, Xavier Ouellet and Jake Evans all picked up two points in the win.
With the win, Laval (16-17-3-3) moved within five points of the final playoff spot in the packed North Division, adding that much more importance to the upcoming three-game stretch against North Division rivals. The Rocket start the week against a familiar foe; Belleville (18-21-2-0) and Laval have already faced off six times so far this season, with both teams sporting 3-3-0-0 records. The Rocket won the last meeting between the two sides on Wednesday, January 2 by a score of 4-2. Byron Froese scored the game’s opening goal and added an assist, while Audette had two helpers in the win.
The Rocket finish off the week with two games against the Monsters (18-15-4-1). The two sides split the first back-to-back in Cleveland back in November – the Rocket took the first game by a score of 5-1, but dropped the second 4-2.
Place Bell will no doubt be bumping on Friday night, as the new DJ Series presented by Virgin Radio in collaboration with Monster lands in Laval and will ignite Place Bell with performances from DJs and light shows to entertain fans before the game and during stoppages in play. The series, which will be spread out over three Friday nights (January 18, February 8, March 8), will also feature a dance floor installed in the concourse. Saturday’s game is Grocery Bags Giveaway Night, with the first 3,000 fans to arrive getting free grocery bags.
Laval owns a record of 5-3-1-1 in its last 10 games and has picked up 7 of a possible 10 points since the start of the month.
By the numbers…
|Buts / Goals||Byron Froese (11)|
|Aides / Assists||Alex Belzile (21)|
|Points||Alex Belzile (29)|
|Tirs / Shots||Alex Belzile (93)|
|MBA / GAA||Michael McNiven (2.49)|
|%ARR / SVS%||Michael McNiven (.891)|
|1. Daniel Audette has emerged as an offensive force for the Rocket over the last few weeks, collecting 11 points in his last 10 games (4 G, 7 A)…
|1. Rookie forward Drake Batherson now ranks 11th among rookie scoring with 25 points in 26 games…
|1. Defenceman Adam Clendening ranks 17th among all defenceman with 22 points (3 G, 19 A). He is currently riding a five-game point streak (6 points)…|
|2. The Rocket have consistently been one of the better defensive teams in the AHL this season, currently ranking 1st in shots against per game (24.26) and 7th in goals against per game (2.90)
|2. Belleville has struggled on the road this season, currently sporting a 6-13-2-0 record away from CAA Arena…
|2. Cleveland has made a habit of peppering opposing goaltenders with shots, ranking 2nd overall in shots for (32.76)…
|3. Charlie Lindgren is back after a long injury layoff – he went 1-1 over the weekend, making 29 saves in the 6-5 win over Manitoba on Saturday. Lindgren ranks 14th among qualified goaltenders with a 2.70 GAA…||3. Belleville’s penalty kill has continued to struggle, ranking last on the road (72.4%) and overall (76.2%)…||3. Nathan Gerbe and Zac Dalpe have paced the Monsters offence this year. Gerbe leads the team with 29 points (9 G, 20 A) – Dalpe is right behind him with 28 points (15 G, 13 A)…|