RECAP | Monsters – Rocket: McNiven Stops 38 Shots, Earns First AHL Shutout

Photo by Laval Rocket
FINAL | 2018-19 Season, Game 41 | Friday, January 18, 2019 
Place Bell, Laval, QC




Photo by Laval Rocket


Forward lines and defense pairings: 

[one_half]Audette – Evans – Belzile
Shinkaruk – Vejdemo – Grenier
Jevpalovs – Froese – Waked
Verbeek – Martineau – Alain[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Sklenicka – Lernout
Ouellet – Fleury
Plant – Lamarche[/one_half_last]



Michal Moravcik, Charlie Lindgren, Michael Pezzetta, Alex Kile

Injury List:

Gustav Olofsson (shoulder), Noah Juulsen (upper body injury), Michael McCarron (undisclosed), David Schlemko (undisclosed)

Game Report

Game Report written by Chris G

The Cleveland Monsters visited Place Bell on Friday night for the first of two weekend games against the Laval Rocket. Heading into the game, there was one point separating the teams in the North Division. This was the third game between the division rivals this season, with each team winning one game.

Laval is coming off a 4-2 win on Wednesday night against Belleville, while Cleveland lost 5-4 in Binghamton on Saturday.

Michael McNiven got the call to start in goal for Laval. His last start was on January 4th in a 3-2 shootout loss against Rochester. Hayden Verbeek and David Sklenicka returned to the lineup replacing Karl Alzner (recalled to Montreal), and Alex Kile. 

Laval had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period even though they were dominated by Cleveland. Daniel Audette took the Rocket’s first shot on goal 11:42 into the period after they had allowed seven shots against them.

Alex Belzile scored his ninth goal of the season with a backhand after receiving a perfect pass from Alexandre Grenier. McNiven made 10 saves in the period, while his team took 3 shots on Cleveland’s netminder, Jean-Francois Berube. 

Jake Evans didn’t return on the bench for the start of the second period. At the 13:11 mark of the first period, Evans got was hit from behind by Eric Robinson. After going to the dressing room for a few minutes, Evans returned for one shift before leaving for the remainder of the game with an upper-body injury and is listed day-to-day.

The second period resembled the first. Cleveland dominated their opponents but was unable to score. Laval took four shots in the period, while McNiven was excellent in his crease again, making 11 saves in the frame.

Laval’s goaltender continued his stellar performance in the third period making another 17 saves on the way to earning his first career professional shutout. The Monsters weren’t able to capitalize on their two power play opportunities in the period.

“It was a good team effort that allowed me to play my game and they get to play theirs too,” said McNiven after the game. Joel Bouchard added, “I don’t think they had second and third scoring chances.[..] I think we managed that game very well. I’m not saying we dominated the game. I thought we were really smart.”

“It was more even than it showed in shooting,” said Belzile.

With the victory, Laval is one point out of a playoff spot. “I don’t think you guys would have said that six weeks ago,” said Bouchard.

The two teams face each other again on Saturday at 3:00 pm ET. Listen in the player below for full post-game audio.

▲     Michael McNiven, Alexandre Grenier

▼     Phelix Martineau

12 Shots 38
0 for 2 Power Play 0 for 3
6 Penalty Minutes 14
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Rocket (18-17-3-3) 1 0 0 1
 Monsters (18-16-4-1) 0 0 0 0
Scorers Goalies
  • LAV: Belzile (9)
  • CLE: No scoring.
  • LAV: McNiven (W) 5-4-2-0
  • CLE: Berube (L) 11-12-3-0
 AHL Three Stars

  1. Michael McNiven  LAV
  2. Maxim Lamarche  LAV
  3. Alex Broadhurst  CLE

 Video highlights
 Post-game interview
Post-game interview with Joel Bouchard:

Post-game interview with Michael McNiven:

Post-game interview with Alex Belzile:

Post-game interview with Maxim Lamarche:

Post-game interview with Brett Lernout:

Interviews conducted by Chris G for AHL Report

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