On the heels of a stinging overtime loss at the hands of the Utica Comets on Friday night, the Laval Rocket were back in action on Saturday for the final game of their New York road trip. Facing them were the Syracuse Crunch, and the injury-plagued Rocket fell 3-2.
Zachary Fucale got the net for Laval, looking to build on his sparkling performance against Binghamton, while opposing him would be the former St. John’s IceCap Eddie Pasquale.
While neither team managed an early advantage, the Crunch seemed to get the better chances on Fucale, while the Rocket’s shots came from a distance on Pasquale. The Rocket would soon have a chance to break the scoreless tie, with the Crunch being down a man due to a boarding incident and ensuing scrum. Mathieu Joseph laid a questionable hit on Markus Eisenschmid, which drew the ire of David Broll who ended up tussling with Dennis Yan. By the time all was sorted out, Broll and Yan sat for two minutes, while Joseph was also in the box for boarding.
Poor Markus Eisenschmid, gets boarded and Broll starts a scrum while he's still on the ice. pic.twitter.com/8VgxHEm0BT— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 11, 2018
The German forward would be alright after a short stay on the bench, and would hop out to take his shift on the Rocket’s second power play. The man advantage failed to produce anything for Laval, but for the Crunch they jumped all over a sloppy line change and Anthony Cirelli fed Alexander Volkov a perfect pass that Fucale had no chance on, making it 1-0 Syracuse.
Volkov scores shorthanded when the Crunch caught the Rocket napping on a line change. pic.twitter.com/wvDwlKFru9— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 11, 2018
Laval attempted a push back but, were unable to break through a physical Syracuse defence. Then the combination of Cirelli and Joseph struck once again in the final three minutes of the period. Joseph rang a shot off the crossbar behind Fucale, and in the ensuing scramble Cirelli picked up the loose puck and fired home his 10th goal of the year, doubling the Crunch lead.
Things wouldn’t improve much before the end of the opening 20 minutes as Michael McCarron would be called for goaltender interference with under 30 seconds remaining, giving Syracuse a power play to start the second period.
The Rocket were able to dispatch the remainder of McCarron’s minor penalty to start the second frame, keeping the deficit at just two goals. Then it would penalty trouble that finally caught up the Syracuse in the second period, with a pair of back-to-back too many men penalties leading to the Rocket’s first goal of the game. In a bit of a surprise it would be the elder statesman of the Rocket, David Broll who tallied the power play marker, with a nifty deflection past Pasquale.
David Broll of all people gets the Rocket on the board with a power play goal off a deflection. pic.twitter.com/xGDRpw4tNE— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 11, 2018
Broll’s goal seemed to breathe life back into the Rocket, who swarmed all over the Crunch zone looking for a tying goal, with a number of Laval players testing Pasquale from the high danger areas. The veteran netminder kept them at bay. Broll in particular made himself known all over the ice after his power play marker, laying the body heavy on any Crunch forward unlucky enough to be caught in his crosshairs.
The Rocket momentum would stall in the second half of the period however, as Simon Bourque was whistled for tripping, with just over six minutes remaining. Even after killing his minor, Eric Gelinas would take a hooking minor with the final seconds ticking off in the second period, giving Syracuse a power play to start the final period.
The penalty killing units came up big once again, not only killing off the Gelinas hooking penalty, but also another hooking minor just 3:39 into the third period, with Bourque again being the guilty party. A flawless penalty kill lead to a golden chance for Jordan Boucher, who broke in on Pasquale all alone, his backhand couldn’t find the five hole for the tying goal.
Laval finally got their tying goal just before the halfway point of the period. Adam Cracknell found the back of the net for his 19th goal of the year. Kyle Baun collected the faceoff win, and dished off the Tom Parisi, the defenceman let a slap shot fly and Cracknell got just enough of the shot to tip it past Pasquale and tie the game up.
Adam Cracknell's 19th of the year ties the game for Laval. pic.twitter.com/DLqYdLvyFd— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 11, 2018
It was a short-lived bit of joy for the Rocket though, as former Canadiens draft pick Olivier Archambault restored the Crunch lead under two minutes later. In what was an incredible, individual effort, Archambault broke in one on one with Eric Gelinas, dangled around the Rocket defender and slid the shot through Fucale to put Syracuse back on top.
That would be all the Crunch needed to hold on, sending the Rocket to a second straight loss in as many nights.
It’s not all bad news for the Rocket, missing their two top defenders, and top two scoring forwards they played two very good teams on back to back nights and performed far above expectations. Noah Juulsen missed the game due to an illness, and not due to potential ill-effects of a boarding penalty he suffered earlier in the week. Luc-Olivier Blain made his debut for Laval, making him the third Brampton Beast player to sign a PTO deal and suit up this week in the AHL.
The Rocket are now off until Wednesday night, when they have a Valentines date with the Belleville Senators at Place Bell.
1. Oliver Archambault, SYR (1 Goal)
2. Eddie Pasquale, SYR (Win, 21 Saves)
3. Adam Cracknell, LAV (1 Goal)