New Rocket Richard taking Laval team on his back

Photo: Arianne Bergeron / Arena du Rocket Inc.

📝 contributed by Laval Rocket | AHL On The Beat

Sometimes you just need to build on the positive.

After a whirlwind first playoff appearance last spring, the Laval Rocket came into the 2022-23 season with the same core that took them to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Alex Belzile, Gabriel Bourque, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Corey Schueneman and Cayden Primeau were all back with the team after a successful season together. Building on what was previously accomplished, the Rocket were able to add some help — giving them a deep and exciting team.

To that core, the Rocket added veteran forwards Anthony Richard and Mitchell Stephens as well as Madison Bowey on the back end, all acquired by the Montreal Canadiens in free agency.

After a very competitive camp, Richard has taken the Rocket on his back and proven his value not only to the team, but to the entire league through the first 18 games of the season. He has been the team’s most valuable player thus far, with 11 goals in his first 18 games. The Trois-Rivieres, Que., native has really stood out, and with a name like Richard, the comparisons are obvious with the Rocket’s namesake.

Richard is no stranger to having success in the AHL. After starting with Milwaukee last season, he found success with the Syracuse Crunch, helping them in their playoff push by scoring 26 points in 40 regular-season games before putting up six points in the Crunch’s five-game series loss to Laval in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Richard now has scored 100 goals over his seven seasons in the AHL, an impressive feat.

A newcomer to Laval, Richard immediately felt comfortable in the first few minutes played at Canadiens camp and impressed in his first camp with the big team.

Montreal has been playing an efficient, speed-filled game this season, one that matches Richard’s very well. With Rem Pitlick having bounced between the Canadiens and Rocket in recent weeks, the talk quickly shifted to which Laval mainstay might be the next player called up. If another forward is needed to be recalled soon, Richard has become an obvious choice with his play.

The speedy winger mentioned making a place for himself within the organization at the beginning of the season. After a multiple-goal performance in pre-season and being in a four-way tie for first in the AHL in goal-scoring at American Thanksgiving, we’d say he has done exactly that.