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Laval Rocket split pre-season series as regular season approaches

Two pre-season games and significant personnel movement highlighted a busy few days

The Rocket hit the ice for the first time
Club de hockey Canadien, Inc.

The Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League hit the Place Bell ice in game action for the very first time over the week-end, playing a couple of preseason games against the Belleville Senators.

A pre-season split

As part of their first pre-season, the Rocket celebrated the heritage of hockey in Laval with video packages of the Les Voisins, Le National, and Le Titan. On Saturday night, when the Rocket played their historic first game in Laval, Francis Bouillon, alumni of Le Titan, dropped the puck at the ceremonial face-off. On Sunday Steven Finn (Voisins) and Denis Chalifoux (Titan) dropped the puck.

For the first game, the Rocket played a line-up consisting primarily of players who took part in the Rookie Tournament for the Montreal Canadiens. Most players were also part of “Group C” at the Habs training camp and had not played any NHL preseason games.

It was Brett Lernout who scored the very first preseason goal in franchise history a mere 3:28 into the game on a 5-on-3 power play, assisted by Martin Reway.

Michael McNiven played in goal for the entire game and made 24 saves, conceding only twice, on goals by Max Lajoie and Jim O’Brien. Filip Chlapik added an empty netter for the Senators who were also playing the first preseason game in their latest iteration, having moved the franchise from Binghamton.

The Rocket lost the game 3-1.

On Sunday the Rocket iced a similar line-up, but scratched Martin Reway, Daniel Audette, and David Broll, while adding Chris Terry, Nikita Scherbak, and Michael McCarron in their place on the forward lines.

The defence took on a much more fearsome presence, with the addition of Jakub Jerabek, Matt Taormina, and Zach Redmond to the line-up.

The Rocket got a lot of support from the newcomers, with Terry and Redmond scoring a couple of goals each, while Jerabek and Taormina picked up three assists each. The Rocket went 3-for-6 on the power play in a 7-5 win.

Rocket scoresheet

  1. McEwan (Goulet)
  2. Goulet (McEwan)
  3. Terry (Scherbak, Taormina)
  4. Redmond (Jerabek, Waked) PP
  5. Petti (Leblanc, Jerabek 2)
  6. Terry 2 (Scherbak 2, Taormina 3) PP
  7. Redmond 2 (Jerabek 3, Waked 2) PP

Filip Chlapik scored two goals for the Senators, while Ben Sexton, Max Reinhart, and Daniel Ciampini filled in the rest.

It was not a great night for the goalies as Zachary Fucale played the entire game, but had a rough go of it, giving up five goals on 18 shots, including four goals in the third period. On the Senators side it was Andrew Hammond giving up four goals on 18 shots before getting pulled in the second period in favour of Marcus Hogberg. He faced 20 shots and gave up three goals.

Player movement

After officially opening their training camp last Monday, the Rocket personnel has fluctuated a bit with some additions during the course of the week as players slowly were cut from parent club in Montreal. Michael McCarron and Jakub Jerabek were assigned to Laval directly, while Matt Taormina, Chris Terry, Daniel Carr, and Peter Holland all cleared waivers prior to being assigned. Eric Gelinas was also added to the Rocket roster after signing a one-year AHL contract.

After the second preseason game the Rocket announced some player movement, releasing James McEwan to his junior team, the Guelph Storm. In addition, the team released Sam Posa from his tryout. He returns to the ECHL’s Reading Royals. The Rocket also assigned Patrick Spano, Alexandre Goulet, Willie Corrin, and Kevin Dufour to the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. The latter two have contracts with the team already, the former two remain on a tryout basis.

On Monday the Canadiens sent goaltender Charlie Lindgren to the AHL, and put Byron Froese and Andreas Martinsen on waivers. If they clear, the Rocket can expect additional reinforcement.

Forward Jordan Boucher remains the final tryout at Rocket camp. Boucher looked good at the Canadiens Rookie Tournament, and might have earned himself a professional contract with his training camp thus far.

Updated Rocket training camp roster

Forwards (17)

  • Audette, Daniel
  • Boucher, Jordan, tryout
  • Broll, David, AHL contract
  • Carr, Daniel
  • Ebbing, Thomas, AHL/ECHL contract
  • Eisenschmid, Markus
  • Froese, Byron (Pending waiver clearance)
  • Grégoire, Jérémy (injured)
  • Holland, Peter
  • Martinsen, Andreas (Pensing waiver clearance)
  • McCarron, Michael
  • Petti, Niki, AHL contract
  • Réway, Martin
  • Scherbak, Nikita
  • Terry, Chris
  • Veilleux, Yannick, AHL/ECHL contract
  • Waked, Antoine

Defencemen (9)

  • Bourque, Simon
  • Gélinas, Eric, AHL contract
  • Jerabek, Jakub
  • Juulsen, Noah (injured)
  • Leblanc, Stefan, AHL contract
  • Lernout, Brett
  • Parisi, Tom
  • Redmond, Zach
  • Taormina, Matt

Goalies (3)

  • Fucale, Zachary
  • Lindgren, Charlie
  • McNiven, Michael

Defensive depth

With an abundance of defenders on the team, it will be interesting to follow the case of rookie Simon Bourque. Bourque, in his first professional season, finds himself low on the lineup, and might struggle getting game-time. During the course of the entire training camp he found himself paired with AHLer Stefan Leblanc. He is still eligible for an overage season with the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Things will get even more complicated once rookie Noah Juulsen returns from a broken foot in about a month.

Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.