After a sloppy loss earlier in the week to the Toronto Marlies, the Laval Rocket were back on the ice in Binghamton for a showdown with the Devils: one of the few teams struggling worse than Laval this year. The Rocket were without top-line forward Kerby Rychel, while new players Adam Plant and tryout Trevor Owens drew into the lineup. Michael McNiven was given the reins as the starter as he looked to get back on track during a rough patch of his rookie season. Opposing him would be fan favourite Eddie Lack for the Devils.
The first period didn’t hold much flow in terms of gameplay, as the teams combined for a large number of penalties in the opening 20 minutes. Even with the power plays, the two teams combined for just 11 total shots on net, and one goal overall.
That goal came short-handed, with Chris Terry once again proving why he’s among the AHL’s best goal-scorers. After a big save by McNiven, Éric Gélinas got the puck up ice to Adam Cracknell, who found his way deep into the Devils zone. From there, he feathered a perfect pass across the crease, and Terry had to only tap it in for his 29th goal of the year.
From the first period, Chris Terry gets #29 on a shorthanded goal, slick pass from Adam Cracknell to set it up. pic.twitter.com/1ctG9YGc8g— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2018
While the first period was choppy, and neither team seemed to find their feet on offence, the second period was the exact opposite. Binghamton began to pile up shots, leading 17-7 on the shot counter before they finally found their breakthrough. Some slick tic-tac-toe passing between John Edwardh, Michael Latta, and Kevin Rooney saw the latter snap home a perfect feed to tie the game midway through the middle period.
Jeremy Grégoire would retake the lead for Laval just over two minutes later, taking advantage of an unaware Eddie Lack. Thomas Ebbing fired a low shot on Lack, which was saved, but the puck stayed on the post while the goaltender lost sight of it. Grégoire saw this, and the minute the Devils netminder moved he pounced and swatted home his 11th goal of the year.
Oh dear Eddie Lack, he loses sight of the puck and Jeremy Gregoire chips it in for his 11th of the year.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2018
That is also the first professional point for Trevor Owens! pic.twitter.com/KKC8alyHeP
The see-saw battle continued as just two minutes after the Rocket took the lead, the Devils tied it up again. This time Blake Speers was given a mountain of time and space in the slot, and with that he snapped a shot through the Rocket defence and the five-hole of McNiven to knot the game up at two goals apiece.
It didn’t take long for old demons to rear their head in the final period as Jordan Boucher took a penalty for hooking just 94 seconds in. It took a minute for the Binghamton power play to strike, with a diving swipe of the puck by Jacob MacDonald starting it all. He swatted the puck across the zone to John Quennville, who in turn fed the puck to Nick Lappin. Lappin took his time and ripped a bullet into the upper half of the net for his 30th of the year, and gave the Devils a 3-2 lead.
Nick Lappin makes it 3-2 Devils with an absolute snipe on the power play. pic.twitter.com/4I2IyZUjis— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 31, 2018
A power play at the halfway point of the period gave the Roket a chance to tie the game up once more, but outside of one major point shot, Laval never truly tested Lack. To make matters worse, just after their power play ended, Simon Bourque was whistled for interference, giving the Devils a gift-wrapped chance to increase their lead. Despite some shaky moments around the net, the Rocket managed to kill off Bourque’s infraction and keep the deficit at just one goal.
A short flurry with the net empty for the Rocket did not yield a tying goal, and with the puck chipped out of the zone, Terry was forced to take a hooking penalty to prevent the empty-net goal. Binghamton was more than content to let the clock wind down as they notched the comeback victory over Laval.
The Rocket head out to face the Hershey Bears tomorrow, mired in one of their worst slumps of the year, having lost 12 of their last 14 games. With just six games remaining, it’s all about playing for pride, and right now even that is taking a beating in Laval.
1. Nick Lappin (1 Goal)
2. Chris Terry (1 Goal)
3. John Quennville (2 Assists)