No matter what has been thrown at the Laval Rocket this season, the squad has excelled to become the top club in the American Hockey League. Players in, players out, schedule changes, COVID interruptions, whatever the situation the squad has risen above each situation.”You have to handle everything that’s kind of thrown at you to maximize the development of the players,”head coach Joël Bouchard said. “I think the most important is the veterans, the guys who have been with us for a few years.I can show video, I can teach routes and be on top of them but when the veterans do it in practice and in games it becomes kind of acontagious thing for the other guys to do it.”
Coming off a three game road sweep against the Belleville Senators that finished on Saturday April 24, Laval is comfortably in first place in the Canadian Division and the Conference standings.
Over the course of 29 games, Laval has posted a record of 22-5-1-1, which is good for a .793 win percentage and 46 points. That puts the Rocket 17 points ahead of the Manitoba Moose in the Canadian Division and 12 points ahead of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the Conference standings.
Laval is in the midst of another break from games following a spate of schedule changes in the Canadian Division. The Rocket won’t get game play again until Tuesday evening May 4 when they take on the Toronto Marlies at the Bell Centre.
The depth of the Rocket roster has been the reason for this season as everyone has been able to contribute to the success the club is enjoying. As coach Bouchard is fond of saying, “the boys have bought into the system.” From the goaltending tandem of Cayden Primeau and Michael McNiven who are fourth and sixth respectively among the league’s goaltenders. Primeau has an 11-3-0 record with a pair of shutouts, a 2.07 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. McNiven boasts a.909 save percentage, 2.19 GAA, has one shutout and has a 7-1-1 record. “Definitely it’s a positive,” Michael McNiven said. “I’ve been looking for an opportunit like this for quite some time in my pro career. It’s nice to get the extra games, extra experience and keep working hard day in and day out moving forward.”
Ryan Poehling leads the club with 25 points and goals thanks to 11 goals and 14 assists, Jordan Weal is tops in helpers with 16. Rookies Joël Teasdale and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard have been sparkplugs in the Rocket attack. Teasdale and Harvey-Pinard have both notched 18 points; Teasdale has eight goals and 10 assists while Harvey Pinard has seven goals and 11 assists.
Still time to sign on for virtual coaches’ clinic
The final segment of the Laval Rocket and Metro mon épicier Rocket Hockey Tour is set for Monday, May 10 at 6 p.m. with head coach Joël Bouchard on the topic of generating offence as a team. It is a free event for minor hockey coaches and registration is open until Friday, May 7. Held in collaboration with Hockey Québec, professional development points (NCCP) will be distributed to all coaches who attend the training session. Go to the Rocket website to fill out the form to register.