(Laval) It must have been a good fifteen minutes when media representatives were able to enter the Laval Rocket locker room on Friday evening. They found five players waiting for them patiently, looking relaxed, with smiles on their faces. And it’s not just because they were about to begin a full five-day furlough.

On the ice, Logan Mailloux, Arber

Their smiles were undoubtedly also explained by the fact that the Laval team gives the impression of having finally reached an important step in the imposing process aimed at making it progress.

A process that was sometimes painful, as noted by Maillet, chosen first star thanks to three assists Friday night.

“I was looking at the standings this morning (Friday) and we were three points away from being in the playoffs despite everything that happened before Christmas,” underlined the Rocket striker.

Saturday morning, the Rocket (9-13-5) still occupied last place in the North section standings and was still three points from the last position giving access to the playoffs.

Thus, we would be led to believe that Jean-François Houle’s troop has been standing still over the last two weeks. Such an analysis would not correspond to reality.

In its last six meetings, the Rocket has earned four victories and amassed nine points out of a possible 12. Three of them were acquired against opponents who, on Saturday morning, had 15 on the clock.

This was the case for the Penguins, third in the Atlantic section of the American League, two points from the Hartford Wolf Pack, a team against which the Rocket obtained three points out of a possible four two weeks ago.

Also, the Penguins had won their previous four outings by a combined score of 15-4.

Also, the Rocket was treated to another solid performance from goalkeeper Jakub Dobes.

Since his brief presence in front of his team’s net on December 2 against the Abbotsford Canucks, during which he allowed three goals on seven shots and in less than four minutes, Dobes has a goals against average of 2.16 and a .933 save percentage in six starts.

Houle said a word about it after Friday’s meeting; Dobes will be called upon to defend the Rocket’s net on a regular basis when activities resume, including on consecutive nights.

“We played games where we left him to his own devices,” admitted Maillet.

“It’s always easy to blame the goalkeeper, but our performance was simply unacceptable. He’s a good goalie and if you play in a structured way, limit the numbers and quality shots in the slot, he’s going to make the saves, and we know that. »

With all that, the Rocket has one more point than after the same number of games a year ago.

“We had several games that we lost in shootouts or overtime, but we still got a point. And these are important points,” Houle emphasized.

“Yes, a little surprised because we have a young team, but it shows that it’s not easy to win in the league here, and that you always have a chance if you win two or three games in a row. I think the guys know that we are not far away, and if we can get on a good run, we can be a dangerous team,” believes the Rocket head coach.

No doubt the recipe for the Rocket’s eventual success will come through constant effort from all players, but also through a certain confidence in their abilities, as Xhekaj wisely pointed out after Friday’s game.

“I know I haven’t been here long, but sometimes I feel like we’re beating ourselves before the game even starts,” said Xhekaj, who scored his first goal with the Rocket, Friday.

“I find we go into games thinking ‘we’re playing against a good team, we don’t have a chance. In the games that I’ve seen that we’ve won, we’ve come out and said, ‘We’re going to win this game, and it shows. We can stand up to any team. All you need is for each player to get involved. »