Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Week in Review, Keith Kinkaid Struggling, Yannick Veilleux’s Impressive Start
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Rocket returned from their Christmas break and played two games over the weekend against the division rival Marlies at Place Bell.
“We play so often against them, I must have played at least 50 times against them. I’m not a fan of Toronto,” said Charles Hudon in case you were wondering if there was a rivalry between the organizations in the AHL.
On Friday night, the Marlies scored three goals in 59 seconds during the second period and held on to win 3-2. “A couple of bounces here and there. And you know, I mean I think that it’s one of those moment right now where we’re playing extremely well and we’re not getting as many bounce. So you got to stick with the process. Make sure that guys stay positive. I mean, if the guys weren’t working if we were getting eaten alive, it’d be different but if you guys watch the game, I don’t think we got eaten alive tonight. We just got to score one more goal than the other team and prevent one more,” said Joel Bouchard after the game.
Laval snapped their five game losing streak on Saturday afternoon and took advantage of Toronto that was playing their third game in as many days with a dominating 6-1 win. The Marlies took only one shot in the second period despite having a two-man advantage for 58 seconds.
“We worked hard, we had a lot of scoring chances, we needed more finish, felt the guys finished a lot more tonight that being said, I think I gotta give credit to the guys that stuck with it,” analyzed the coach after the game.
Laval is currently outside of the playoff picture with all of their division rivals having games in hand. This week, the Rocket are in Belleville on New Year’s Eve for an afternoon game against division rival Senators, before heading to Place Bell to face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday and the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday.
Keith Kinkaid Struggles
Keith Kinkaid made his third start in the AHL since being sent by the Canadiens on Friday night. It was a night to forget as Kinkaid allowed three goals in 59 seconds and was replaced at the start of the third period by Cayden Primeau due to cramps. Kinkaid would have remained in the game if he would have been able continue.
After the third goal was allowed, the fans at Place Bell gave Kinkaid a mock cheer after his subsequent save. “Obviously as a coach, I don’t like my player to be nagged by the fan. I can’t go in the stands and tell all the fans to not do it. I don’t think it’s everybody. Obviously three goals quick like this. You know, it’s not fun for the goalie, it’s not fun for coach, not fun for the player,” said the coach post-game.
“I thought he played well you can’t blame him on any of those goals. It’s not easy. I mean, as a goaltender your confidence is magnified even more as a player when you have zero confidence. It’s tough when you come in like that, you know, the fans start to get on him. That’s tough, but that’s really disappointing to see. He’s a good guy, he’s come in and worked hard. You know, I feel for the guy, he’s gonna come out of it. He’s a great goaltender,” added Dale Weise.
In four games played with the Rocket, Kinkaid has 1-2-1 record with 3.33 goals-against-average and .833 save percentage. “He’s been practicing hard I think we have chance to practice more in the AHL. Obviously the numbers are not what he would want. That being said I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t care, I think right now things are going a certain way for him and for the team. But he’s a big boy, he’s a pro, he’s been in the NHL, has been a starter in the NHL. It’s for him to dig deep and go back and in the winning column and going over 900 as a save percentage, and making those strides and we’re with him,” Bouchard noted.
Veilleux Impressive Start
On December 19th, the team announced that Alex Belzile‘s season was over after undergoing surgery on right pectoral muscle that will require six months recovery. On the same day, the team also announced that they had signed Yannick Veilleux to a professional tryout contract. Veilleux was playing with the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL, and had 19 points in 22 games.
With the injury to Phil Varone, and with Riley Barber with Montreal since December 8th, Bouchard called Veilleux to discuss the possibility of joining the team in order to add experience. The player took some time to think about it before accepting. He only wanted to return to the AHL in the right conditions.
“Ever since the beginning of the year, I’ve already got a couple calls to go to different teams in the American Hockey League, and every time my conversations we’re going the same way. They were all offering me the same type of role I had before, and I was trying to go to Europe and produce a bit more this year,” said Veilleux. Bouchard promised him that if he gave his 100 percent that he would get ice time in Laval.
The offer was accepted and Veilleux joined the team in Utica on December 20th. The Rocket travelled back by bus immediately after the game and Veilleux got to see his girlfriend and son for the first time since September when he joined Kalamazoo. “He’s at a young age, so when he saw me, he was looking at his mother, and looking at me, and was like ‘I’m used to see him on FaceTime.'”
Veilleux was part of the Canadiens organization in 2016-17 when the AHL affiliate was in St. John’s and with Laval in 2017-18. As a result, he knew several faces when he entered the team’s dressing room in Utica. Charles Hudon, Michael McCarron, and Antoine Waked were his teammates, Marco Marciano was the goalie coach, and Bouchard was his opponent in junior hockey. In the summer, he’s been working out with Xavier Ouellet for over 10 years, and has played with Daniel Jacob.
“He plays hard, he comes and works every day. He goes to the net, he finishes his checks, he plays the right way,” noted McCarron. “He’s heavy on the board, he’s heavy in front of the net, he’s touching every single puck,” added Hudon.
Veilleux has had an impressive start in the three games he’s played, scoring in all three and adding one assist. “Joel has been giving me more ice time than I’m used too at this level and that’s just what I wanted. I’ve always been an underdog in this league, I’ve always worked hard, right now it’s just paying off.”