Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Froese, Schlemko Traded to Flyers, Ouellet Named Captain, Dim Playoff Picture, ECHL Goalie LaCouvee Signed
by Chris G, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine
LAVAL, QC. — The Laval Rocket aren’t having a lot of success on the ice as of late. They are currently on a six game losing streak, and have lost seven of their last eight games. Over the weekend, Laval lost both games of a home-to-home series against Belleville. On Friday, the Senators beat the Rocket by a 5-2 score in Laval, and in Belleville, the Rocket lost 6-3 against their division rivals.
Laval continues their six game road trip against a pair of division rivals. On Wednesday night, the Rocket heads to Utica to face the Comets, and then on the weekend they head to Binghampton to face the Devils for a pair of games.
My top-5 Rocket takes of the week
On Saturday morning, the Canadiens traded Byron Froese to the Flyers. Froese led the team with 14 goals and was second in scoring with 30 points.
“Byron is an extraordinary individual,” said Joel Bouchard to 91.9 Sports on Saturday. “He was showing the example at every practice. Whenever we were in a situation to change something, he was the first to say let’s get on board, let’s do it. On our side, we’re losing an important piece on the ice and also in the room with the players.”
Froese has been the team’s first and only captain since the move to Laval. “We were such a tight knit group,” said Froese to 91.9 Sports. “Sad to have to say good bye to these guys.”
From a Rocket perspective, the loss of Froese will have a negative impact to the team.
On Tuesday, the Rocket introduced Xavier Ouellet as their new captain. Ouellet becomes the team’s second captain since the Canadiens AHL affiliate moved to Laval.
I’m surprised that a new captain was named for the remainder of the season, but if one player was to be named, I’m not surprised that it was Ouellet. He was immediately named an alternate captain as soon as he was assigned to Laval. “We received Xavier Ouellet a couple of weeks ago. Xavier has a lot of experience and I think we see it on the ice that he’s a born leader,” Bouchard told 91.9 Sports on Saturday hours after Froese was traded to the Flyers.
“When I came to Laval, my goal was to make a difference,” said Ouellet on Tuesday. “As much as I want to perform on the ice to help get wins on the ice, I also want to be a good example for the young guys.”
Bouchard has known the team’s new captain for a long time. Ouellet was captain for two seasons for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armanda in the QMJHL when Bouchard was the head coach in that organization.
Ouellet has been the quarterback of the power play since his assignment to Laval. He has 12 points with the extra attacker in 21 games play.
New Beginning For Schlemko
David Schlemko was also part of the trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. He didn’t seem happy to be playing in Laval. “I had a talk with Bergy (Marc Bergevin), but I’ll probably keep that between me and him,” said Schlemko when he had joined the Rocket.
“New opportunity. Get to go somewhere and have another shot at being in the NHL,” said the newest member of the Flyers organization to 91.9 Sports on Saturday. “It hasn’t really worked for me in any way here since the start of last year.[..] It’s just a very frustrating year and a half.”
Schlemko’s role on the team will be replaced by Karl Alzner, assigned to Laval on Sunday. In his first assignment with the Rocket, Alzner had a great attitude and was a positive influence in the dressing room.
In eight games with the Rocket, Schlemko had 4 points and was minus-6.
The Rocket is currently at the bottom of the North Division, 12 points out of a playoff spot. In addition to losing Froese via trade, the organization also confirmed that Michael McCarron would be sidelined as he underwent season ending shoulder injury.
There are also four other teams between Laval and a playoff spot. They will be playing 13 of their next 15 games against division rivals. They would need to go on an incredible run during that stretch to get back into the race. At the same time, they have to win those games in regulation to avoid giving points to the teams they are competing against for that playoff spot.
In my opinion, they don’t have the resources to get it done.
LaCouvee successful tryout
Before re-assigning him back to Maine, the Rocket rewarded Connor LaCouvee with a two-way AHL contract until the end of the season. The two-way AHL contract allows the team to assign him to the ECHL and maintain his rights. In six games with Laval, he got four wins, compiled a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.98 and a save percentage of .927.
LaCouvee had a rough return to Maine in the three games he played over the weekend. LaCouvee was pulled in his first two starts as he allowed five goals on Friday and six on Saturday. Things went better on Sunday for LaCouvee, allowing one goal on 35 shots.
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