Montreal Canadiens games in the month of February became fairly dreary by the end of the month, but there were lots of bright lights shining on the farm.
The Laval Rocket were finally able to begin the 2020-21 season on February 12th, and the team has been playing an entertaining brand of hockey ever since.
In the weekly Rocket Report, we’ll take a look at what’s going on with the Habs top farm club over the past seven days.
With a unique schedule that only includes games against other teams based out of Canada, the Rocket played three games but they were all against the Manitoba Moose. All three games were at the Bell Centre in Montreal, making it eight straight home games to begin the season for the Rocket.
Last Wednesday, they dominated the Moose in shots and possession, but fell 4-2. Brandon Baddock scored the Rocket’s first goal just over three minutes into the game, with assists going to Otto Leskinen and Michael Pezzetta. Their second goal was scored by Jesse Ylonen and it was his first career AHL goal. It was assisted by Yannick Veilleux but was a terrific individual effort as he toe dragged around a defender before firing a wrist shot into the net.
The Rocket outshot the Moose 31-16, but a pair of power play goals put them ahead and an empty netter sealed the deal. Charlie Lindgren allowed three goals on just 15 shots in the loss.
The Rocket once again controlled the play against the Moose on Friday night, outshooting them 34-22, but they were able to find the back of the net a few more times as well. Gustav Olofsson scored shorthanded from Joseph Blandisi in the first period before Jesse Ylonen scored again in the second from Josh Brook and Jordan Weal.
Kevin Lynch gave the Rocket a 3-2 lead in the third period with assists going to Olofsson and Lucas Vejdemo. After the Moose tied it again, Brook scored the winner with a blast from the point after a nice setup from Raphael Harvey-Pinard and Blandisi. Cayden Primeau was in goal and stopped 19 of 22 shots in the win.
The rubber match on Saturday night was a much lower scoring affair, but once again the Rocket greatly limited their opponent’s chances. The shots were 25-17 for Laval and Lindgren was back in goal to stop 16 of 17 shots.
A first period goal from Vejdemo with assists going to Alex Belzile and Leskinen and an early second period marker from Ryan Poehling setup by Harvey-Pinard was all the offence the Rocket needed.
It was an impressive week for youngsters Jesse Ylonen and Raphael Harvey-Pinard. Ylonen is showing off plenty of skill and offensive ability at the AHL level. He scored his first two goals of the season and is now up to six points in eight games which puts him in a tie for first on the team.
Harvey-Pinard was a 7th round pick of the Habs and not a lot was expected of him. He is playing a tenacious, gritty style that makes his a valuable piece of this Rocket team. He has three goals and five points which puts him just one back of the team lead.
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The Rocket are off now until Monday when they take on the Belleville Senators. They started the season with four games against the Senators and won three of them, scoring five goals in each victory.