The Laval Rocket entered Wednesday night’s contest against the Binghamton Devils on the heels of a thrashing at the hands of the Toronto Marlies. To make matters worse, Laval would be without several of their best players. AHL All-Stars Chris Terry and Matt Taormina are out injured, and Nikita Scherbak is on recall in Montreal.
Also in the lineup would be ECHL try-outs D Matt Petgrave and F Chris Leveille, who were part of the 11 forward/7 defender alignment for the game. Both Petgrave and Leveille were making their AHL debuts. Zachary Fucale would get the start in net for the Rocket while opposite him was Ken Appleby for the Devils, and Laval came out with the 4-1 win.
In spite of all their missing talent the Rocket dominated the Devils in the opening 20 minutes, holding them to just four shots on goal, while they piled up 14 of their own. Aiding Laval was the lack of discipline from the Devils, as they had two power play chances including one just 42 seconds into the game. Out of all players on the ice in the first period, it would be enforcer David Broll who piled up four shots on net in the first period, as many as the Devils had as a team overall.
Oddly enough, it would be Broll’s penalty that lead to the Rocket getting on the scoreboard as the dying seconds of the first period ticked away. With Bracken Kearns on his way to the box, Broll got involved and would end up sitting for roughing as well. In the ensuing 4-on-4 situation Adam Cracknell fed the puck over to Eric Gelinas who uncorked a powerful slap shot, and it would be Markus Eisenschmid who deflected the puck into the net with just seven seconds left in the frame.
Markus Eisenschmid gives Laval a 1-0 lead with a deflection on Eric Gelinas's shot. pic.twitter.com/CSQ76uy2YO— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 8, 2018
While the Rocket used the power play in the first period to swing the tide in their favour, the opposite occurred in the middle frame. Broll, after a strong first period, would collect a ten minute misconduct in a scrum where Michael McCarron also sat for roughing. McCarron would also collect another slashing penalty just before the midway point of the period, but Zach Fucale and the Rocket penalty killers were up to the task.
With Jordan Boucher serving a bench minor for too many men, the Rocket would strike while shorthanded to double their lead. Simon Bourque bolted out of the defensive zone carrying the puck in one on one with a Devils defender. As he held off the defender, he picked out McCarron crashing the net and fed a perfect cross-crease feed for an easy goal.
Simon Bourque with an outstanding individual effort, sets up Michael McCarron for a shorthanded goal. pic.twitter.com/NAnikqKkmy— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 8, 2018
The Devils would attempt to strike back almost immediately with Ben Thomson breaking in alone, but he would be denied by the quick glove of Fucale to keep the two goal lead intact. As the dust settled at the end of the period, the Devils posted 14 shots on Fucale, while Laval managed just four on Ken Appleby, but still managed to find a way to increase their lead.
After two high octane periods where high danger chances for both teams were abundant, the third period saw the Rocket clamp down and stifle any chance of a Devils comeback. Jordan Boucher continued a strong game with a great assist, breaking in on a 2-on-1 and sliding a pass to Thomas Ebbing who notched the first goal of his professional career to make it a three goal lead for Laval.
Thomas Ebbing with his first of the year makes it 3-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/6U97gnxziC— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 8, 2018
Binghamton would finally break Fucale’s shutout bid with a little over five minutes gone in the third period, Blake Speers came in on an odd-man rush and wired a shot off the post and in behind the Rocket netminder.
The period was not without it’s scary moments, as the injury-plagued Rocket nearly lost their top defender when Noah Juulsen went down in a heap behind the net. Juulsen went into play a puck, and with his back turned he was hit from behind by Jan Mandant and went down to the ice immediately. No penalty was called on the play, but Juulsen was able to skate off under his own power and would return to the game shortly after.
Right behind the net, Noah Juulsen is hit right in the numbers by Jan Mandant, no penalty on the play. pic.twitter.com/7qSXpW4ayo— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 8, 2018
As time wound down. Fucale held the fort in net, turning away chances from Jimmy Hayes and a few others to keep the Laval lead at two goals. A late power play for Binghamton yielded nothing and after a successful kill, Jeremy Gregoire would deposit the empty net goal to seal a victory for the Rocket. In victory, Zach Fucale notched 24 saves on 25 shots, moving his record to 6-2-0 in the AHL this season.
After a setback on Saturday, this was a major rebound game for Laval, and even with a cobbled together lineup they pulled off an impressive win. The Rocket now continue their central New York road trip with games in Utica and Syracuse on Friday and Saturday respectively.
1. Michael McCarron, LAV (1 Goal)
2. Markus Eisenschmid, LAV (1 Goal)
3. Blake Speers, BIN (1 Goal)