Montreal Canadiens: Michael McNiven Steals Win For Laval Rocket

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 19: Michael McNiven (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 19: Michael McNiven (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McNiven went through a miserable season a year ago, but he is proving to be a reliable AHL goaltender this season.

With Cayden Primeau turning pro last season, the Laval Rocket had him battling with Charlie McNiven for starts. With no ECHL affiliate in the organization, this left McNiven being loaned out to other organizations to play a handful of ECHL games here and there.

This season, he has bolted down a more consistent role with the Laval Rocket.

More from Prospects

While Primeau is certainly the team’s starting goaltender, McNiven has pushed aside his competition to take on the number two role. Vasili Demchenko is left to sit out as the Rocket’s third goaltender, a role that McNiven is all too familiar with, but probably happy not to be filling any longer.

McNiven made his fifth start of the season, and fourth in the past 16 days, and it was by far his finest.

The Rocket were taking on the Manitoba Moose for the fourth consecutive game. McNiven was looking to get even as he took the loss in his last appearance against the Moose. The Rocket were winning that game 3-1 in the final minute but to goals in the last 22 seconds tied it for the Moose before they stole victory in a shootout.

The Moose came out flying last night, firing 17 shots on goal in the opening period. Frequently enough, the Joel Bouchard coached Rocket will not allow many more than 17 shots in a whole game, so to see that many in a period was rather stunning.

McNiven was up to the task though, turning aside 16 of them, allowing a late power play goal to first round pick Cole Perfetti. It would be the only time the Moose beat McNiven all night.

Corey Schueneman scored a highlight reel goal in the opening minute of the second period, off a nice setup by Joel Teasdale and Joe Blandisi.

The Rocket tightened things up in the second period and allowed only eight shots while firing seven on goal. The game remained tied after forty minutes and the Rocket struck quickly again in the third period. This time it was Michael Pezzetta burying a wrist shot off an odd man rush scoring his first of the season.

Joe Blandisi sealed the victory with an empty net goal in the final minute. It was the final game of the Rocket’s eight game road trip out west and they went an incredible 7-0-1, sweeping the Stockton Heat in four games in Calgary and taking three of four from Manitoba while dropping one in a shootout.

Next. NCAA free agents for Habs to consider. dark

The Rocket are now 15-4-1-1 in the Canadian Division. There are rumours there will not be a playoffs in the AHL this season, and at this rate, they really don’t need one to crown the best team in Canada.