The Laval Rocket were coming off of a big win against the Syracuse Crunch, but weren’t able to carry that momentum in their two-game series with the Rochester Americans. Laval lost both games as they head into the holiday break.
Friday - L 3-2 (OT)
On Friday night it would not be the start the Rocket were looking for as the Amerks struck first on some sloppy play behind the net. Nick Baptiste would strip Tom Parisi of the puck, and then find Kyle Criscuolo crashing the net for the opening goal. The Rochester lead wouldn’t make it to the end of the period however, with Eric Gelinas tying the game up with a cannon of a shot from the blue line.
Jeremy Gregoire battled the puck behind the net, before getting it over to Michael McCarron. The forward passed out to the point and Gelinas let his massive shot fly and beat Linus Ullmark cleanly to tie the game up at one goal apiece.
Slightly better quality of Gelinas' fourth goal of the year pic.twitter.com/syBBQRrlVt— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 23, 2017
After the opening twenty minutes of tightly contested hockey, the Rocket and Amerks would renew that same competitiveness in the middle period. It would end up being a period dominated by the Rocket, even if the shot clock remained even, the Laval side hammered the Amerks right from the outset. Nikita Scherbak and Markus Eisenschmid both had grade A chances early on in the period, but Linus Ullmark stood tall in net to turn them away. Then just over five minutes in the newly rejuvenated Chris Terry broke the deadlock on the scoreboard.
Michael McCarron got the puck to Tom Parisi at the point, and the defender let a wrist shot fly on net, and before Ullmark could find the loose puck, Terry crashed the net and shot the puck home for his team leading 15th goal of the season.
Chris Terry scores his 15th goal of the year to put the Rocket ahead 2-1! pic.twitter.com/z1anG6KglJ— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 23, 2017
After Terry’s goal the Rocket offence found a second gear and went after Rochester, and if not for some bad luck off the posts, and some stellar goaltending by Ullmark likely would have been leaving the period up by more than a goal. A late back and forth between power plays saw neither team do much with their man advantage, except take a lazy penalty and cancel out their own power play.
The Rocket would again dominate the shot clock in the final period, piling up 14 shots on Linus Ullmark, but couldn’t find the back of the net for an insurance goal. With victory seemingly in hand after owning the flow of play for almost 19 minutes, the Rocket saw their two points go frittering away. Former IceCap Zach Redmond let a shot go from the point and Kyle Criscuolo got a stick on it to deflect the puck past Charlie Lindgren for a late, tying goal. To make matters worse, immediately after the goal Nikita Scherbak, who had played well again, took an ill-timed penalty that carried into the overtime period.
In overtime, the Rocket never found their legs, and Rochester took lengthy trips into the Laval zone, forcing their most skilled players to chase the puck for most of the extra period. Then it was Nick Baptiste who found some open space, and ripped a shot over Lindgren for the game winning goal.
The Rocket once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Nick Baptiste snipes home the OT winner for a 3-2 Rochester win. pic.twitter.com/jQgkmEZyzr— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 23, 2017
1. Linus Ullmark (34 saves, W)
2. Kyle Criscuolo (2G)
3. Chris Terry (1G)
Saturday - L 3-1
Less than 24 hours after their overtime loss, it was a battle of the backups. Michael McNiven got the start for Laval. Adam Wilcox would start for Rochester.
It was a slow start for both teams as 15 minutes into the game, the two teams combined for only eight shots (four apiece). However, the Americans would come on strong late in the frame, and Seth Griffith found Garret Ross with a beautiful cross-ice feed who beat McNiven to give Rochester a 1-0 lead with only 20 seconds remaining in the period.
Rochester would close the first period on a 7-2 run on shots and lead 11-6 overall.
Laval would come back fighting in the second period, peppering Wilcox with chances. Michael McCarron would get a few, as would Daniel Audette and Antoine Waked but both times Wilcox would stop them.
It was the Rocket shot that seemed the least likely to go in that would eventually tie the game. After getting stopped on the doorstep, Chris Terry found the puck behind the goal line and somehow banked the puck in off of Wilcox to tie the game 12:50 into the second frame.
Chris Terry has been so good for the Rocket, him scoring from behind the goal line doesn't even surprise me... pic.twitter.com/3NUektYeqJ— Jared Book (@jaredbook) December 24, 2017
It was Terry’s team-leading 16th goal of the season. Unsurprisingly, it was the new-found combination of Cracknell and Scherbak getting assists as the trio continues their strong form.
Laval would actually outshoot Rochester 17-9 in the second period but Wilcox kept his team in the game.
McNiven would also need to make some big saves in the second and early in the third as Rochester would get some scoring chances.
With 9:50 to go in the frame, former Hab Zach Redmond would throw the puck on goal and it would be tipped by Stuart Percy to give Rochester a 2-1 lead. It was the type of dirty goal you would need to beat one of the two goaltenders who were playing quite well.
Just over three minutes later, with the Rocket on the power play, a Laval turnover at the blue line would lead to a 2-on-1 and Nicholas Baptiste would pass across to Kevin Porter to make the game 3-1 and put the game out of reach.
Laval, after getting outshot in the first period, would put 34 shots on Wilcox. McNiven made 26 saves for the Rocket.
1. Kevin Porter (1G, 1A)
2. Adam Wilcox (33 saves, W)
3. Chris Terry (1G)
The Rocket will play next on Wednesday as they start a three-game road trip in Rochester against the Americans.