After a disappointing effort on Friday night against the Belleville Senators, the Laval Rocket would square off against the same side on Saturday as well and it was a reversal of the situation as they pulled out a 4-0 win in Belleville.
Between the pipes would be Charlie Lindgren for the Rocket, Lindgren was looking to make up for a disastrous game where he made just six saves on 10 shots. Opposite of him was Marcus Hogberg for the Senators, who were down to just five defencemen in their starting lineup. The Rocket would also be without the services of Nikita Scherbak who was a last minute scratch before the game, in addition to Chris Terry.
Despite being without their star forwards, the Rocket offence clicked into top gear in the opening twenty minutes, burying the Senators under a mountain of goals. The Sens held an early advantage in terms of shots, testing Lindgren five times before the Rocket managed their first shots of the period. This was due in part to a delay of game penalty on Adam Cracknell, but the Laval penalty kill dispatched the Belleville power play with relative ease. Jordan Murray was whistled for interfering with Daniel Audette, giving Laval a major chance to get on the board after a slow start.
That’s exactly what they did as well, Michael McCarron passed off to Matt Taormina, who fed a puck over to Eric Gelinas. Instead of uncorking his massive slapshot, Gelinas opted to hold the puck for a second, then wired a shot past Hogberg for what looked like his 10th goal of the year, but it would be Cracknell tipping the puck home for his 16th goal of the year.
Eric Gelinas wires home his 10th goal of the year to give the Rocket a 1-0 over the Senators. pic.twitter.com/2K2Z42eXmL— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
The offensive push continued once again, with the Rocket once again taking over the shot counter like they’ve done so many times before this year. Markus Eisenschmid took a Gelinas breakout pass and broke in uncontested on the wing. The German fired a shot on Hogberg who kicked the puck up in the air, where it would be Jordan Boucher who swatted it home to double the Laval lead.
AHL says this goal belongs to Markus Eisenschmid, but it looks like Jordan Boucher swats the puck in on the replay for the Rocket's second goal. pic.twitter.com/M75R2YhCU9— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
Then it was the absolutely unstoppable Cracknell who added a third goal late in the period, giving him 17 of them on the year and three in two days. Michael McCarron had a shot go off the end boards, where Daniel Audette faked a retrieval of the loose puck, leaving it for Cracknell to collect. With two defenders drawn to Audette, Cracknell patiently waited out the goaltender, and sniped his second goal of the game for a 3-0 Laval lead.
Really nifty play by Daniel Audette here, as he fakes going for the puck to draw the defenders.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
Adam Cracknell scoops up the puck, waits out Hogberg and scores his 17th of the year. pic.twitter.com/owmwy6hUzw
Thomas Ebbing and Jack Rodewald would fight shortly after the Cracknell goal. A puck was rimmed around the boards and Brett Lernout let it past him to the point, Jack Rodewald stopped up and threw a high reverse hit to Lernout’s head, sending the giant defender to the ice. Ebbing stepped in and beat Rodewald in a lopsided fight, while Lernout appeared to be unharmed after the hit. The period ended without further incident, and with Laval securely holding onto their three-goal lead.
A fast and furious start to the first period was met with a disjointed and sluggish effort to start the second. The Rocket couldn’t breakthrough with any regular consistency in the middle period. While the Senators, with an early power play could only muster a measly seven shots, compared to the Rocket piling up 13 more shots on Hogberg.
While the opening 40 minutes passed with just one small hiccup, the final 20 featured five game misconducts, and at least three likely suspensions as the game ended on a sour note. First up was Mike Blunden who found himself assessed a two minute minor for roughing, and a ten minute misconduct in addition to that. Blunden was extremely upset after Noah Juulsen collided knee on knee with Jordan Murray, and went right after the rookie defender. When the officials signaled there was no penalty he protested and found himself headed for an early shower with a game misconduct.
Then with Jim O’Brien also sitting for goalie interference the Rocket headed to a two-man advantage, and they put the nail in the coffin on their 5-on-3 power play. Gelinas fed the puck to Cracknell, who played catch with Matt Taormina trying to find an open shooting lane. Cracknell would then feed the puck back to Taormina who walked in from the blueline and let a slap shot go and made it a 4-0 game.
Matt Taormina puts the nail in the coffin with a power play goal.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
Taormina, Gelinas, and Cracknell all had 3 point nights. pic.twitter.com/UnJZDmrtyd
As the final horn blew, everything came unglued as tempers boiled over between the two rival teams.
At the horn, Macoy Erkamps took exception to something, and speared a Rocket player, thus earning himself a game misconduct and likely suspension. In response, Jeremy Gregoire, who was upset after Friday’s loss, came flying out of nowhere and grabbed the closest Senator he could find for a fight. Per the AHL rule book, instigating a fight in this manner is grounds for an immediate suspension. To top it all off, Francis Perron picked up a Rocket player’s glove and stick, and tossed them into the stands, giving him a game misconduct and an automatic suspension as well.
Macoy Erkamps spears someone, Jeremy Gregoire comes flying out of nowhere to even things up, and we have total shenanigans. pic.twitter.com/RF94ix71yB— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
So as it stands right now, the Rocket are down Chris Terry and Scherbak due to injuries, and may be missing Michael McCarron and Jeremy Gregoire due to suspension for their next game.
The Rocket are now off until January 24, when they’ll clash with the Syracuse Crunch at Place Bell at 7:30pm.
1. Adam Cracknell (2G, 1A)
2. Matt Taormina (1G, 2A)
3. Charlie Lindgren (25 Saves, SO)