It was a night of debuts for the Laval Rocket on Wednesday night as five players on tryout contracts made their first in-game appearance at Place Bell. For the Amerks, they already clinched their playoff spot and are looking to nail down a better seed, while the Rocket are looking at players for next season already.
Rinat Valiev returned to the Rocket on the top pair opposite of Adam Plant, while the newly-signed tryout Garret McFadden slid into the third pair with Trevor Owens. On offence Tye Felhaber slotted into the third line spot, while David Broll was a last minute addition due to Jeremiah Addison coming down with the flu. Charlie Lindgren got the start in net, and opposite him was Jonas Johansson for the Amerks.
It was a quiet start for both teams, with each side failing to generate much of anything through the first half of the period. Then a high sticking call on Taylor Fedun sent a vaunted Rocket power play out onto the ice and they would take full advantage. A quick cycle from Chris Terry to Matt Taormina led to a shot from the point which Johansson kicked out and Adam Cracknell was right on the spot to slot the puck home for his 28th of the year.
Adam Cracknell pounces on a loose puck and opens the scoring for the Rocket.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 5, 2018
With a secondary assist, Chris Terry is once again tied for the AHL scoring lead. pic.twitter.com/nGXR5WhSro
The lead would be short-lived however, with Rochester getting an equalizer from Colin Blackwell just over two minutes later on a goal mouth scramble. Rochester would nearly give the lead back with Eric Cornel sitting for hooking a Rocket player, but their penalty kill was able to hold off Laval this time. After Yannick Veilleux got a golden chance on Johansson, he would then take a seat for hooking himself, but Fedun would cut the Amerks power play short after interfering with Antoine Waked.
Much like the opening period, neither team really took advantage of the four on four or abbreviated power play that started the period. The Amerks would head to another power play of their own as the Rocket were caught with too many men on the ice, but outside of a lone Danny O’Regan chance they never truly tested Lindgren in net.
Laval’s fourth line would be the one to finally break the tie game, thanks in part to a perfect cross-ice feed by Matt Taormina. The Rocket defender picked out a streaking Antoine Waked with a pass and Waked would uncork a bullet of a shot that beat Johansson clean and give Laval the lead once again.
Despite a strong defensive effort for the remainder of the period by the Rocket, Rochester would still find a way to equalize before the second period ended. Seth Griffith got a puck towards the Laval net, and Sean Malone tipped it past Lindgren to tie the game with just 20 seconds left in the period.
It wouldn’t take long for Rochester to take a lead of their own in the third period, after an icing to start the period an O’Regan shot got lost in a scramble out front, and Colin Blackwell would flip it into the open cage to make it 3-2 Rochester. The Rocket wouldn’t do much to help their comeback as Nikita Korostelev was called on a high stick, forcing a struggling penalty kill onto the ice. The Amerks tested Lindgren a few more times, but the Rocket netminder was up to the task and kept the deficit at just one goal.
Just past the midway point of the period, the Rocket’s power play got another chance to shine as Justin Bailey was whistled for tripping up Markus Eisenschmid. Laval wasn’t able to generate much pressure in the offensive zone during the man advantage. Shortly after their power play expired, Trevor Owens would sit for hooking Sean Malone in front of the Rocket net.
The penalty kill would step up once more, with Lindgren holding the fort against a number of solid Rochester challenges, still keeping the Amerks lead at just one goal. With Lindgren on the bench the Rocket mounted one more push on Johansson, but were not able to put a third puck past the Swedish giant before the final horn sounded.
Next up for the Rocket is a home game on Friday night against the Springfield Thunderbirds, before the team travels to Belleville for one last game against the Senators on Saturday.
1. Colin Blackwell (2 Goals)
2. Danny O’Regan (2 Assists)
3. Charlie Lindgren (30 Saves)