Final Score: Manitoba 4, Rocket 0
After several weeks on the injured list, the Laval Rocket finally had their starting goaltender back as Charlie Lindgren joined the team to start against the Manitoba Moose on Thursday night. Also joining the team would be David Schlemko who cleared waivers earlier this week, giving the Rocket another veteran presence while Noah Juulsen recuperates from his upper body injury.
Connor LaCouvee would serve as Lindgren’s back up in this game, with Michael McNiven the healthy scratch in favour of the try out goalie, likely to prepare McNiven for the start in the next game Saturday. Starting in net for the Moose would be prospect Eric Comrie, with Ken Appleby backing him up.
Things would not go in Lindgren’s, or the Rocket’s, favour early on in the game as the first shot Lindgren faced in the game ended up in the back of the net. Cameron Schilling let a shot go from the point, and through all of the traffic it found its way past Lindgren, giving Manitoba an early 1-0 lead. It was an unfortunate goal against for Lindgren who caught part of the puck with his blocker, but not enough to stop it from getting past him for the goal.
Moose go up 1-0 on a Cameron Schilling shot through traffic. pic.twitter.com/4MOe3OV0dt— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 11, 2019
The Moose tagged on another goal before the halfway point of the period, with Alexis D’Aoust drilling home a shot from the slot to make it 2-0.
Then things got a little out of hand, with Michael Pezzetta and Antoine Waked being forced into some exchanges involving their fists, and somehow Pezzetta avoiding a penalty in all of the mess. For the Moose, Jimmy Oligny jumped into a fight as a third man, and as a result took a double minor for roughing and a game misconduct for his actions, resulting in a massive four minute power play for the Rocket.
The Rocket’s power play woes continued to mirror those of their parent club. They created a few good looks, but inevitably failed to score on their extended man advantage. The best chance fell to the stick of Xavier Ouellet who let a big shot fly, and had it deflected off the post, but away from the net itself. Byron Froese thought he had a goal before the intermission, but due to a quick whistle he was denied the marker.
After struggling to get their legs under them early in the first period, the Rocket took over control of the shot counter in the middle period. Even back to back penalties from Froese and Maxim Lamarche did little to slow down the Rocket, as their stalwart penalty kill continued to be a strong point of the team.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying that Laval entered the second intermission still trailing by two goals. They had their chances on Comrie throughout the period. Lukas Vejdemo created a prime chance when his shot handcuffed Comrie, but the Rocket failed to capitalize on the loose puck. Even with the repeated attacks to close the period, the Moose netminder turned them away to keep his shutout intact.
The third period was a choppy, but dominant one for the Rocket as they pushed for some goals to climb back into the game. Just over a minute in Charlie Lindgren came up with a massive stop on a Jansen Harkins breakaway chance to keep the deficit at two goals.
Following the save, and a goalpost hit by Alex Belzile, the Rocket would being to takeover the game and had an early power play opportunity again with Alexis D’Aoust being whistled for hooking. On the following man advantage tempers boiled over in a big way with Daniel Audette and Alex Belzile taking a pair of roughing penalties, while Marko Dano and Felix Girard were involved for the Moose. This wouldn’t be the last time these sides came together in the third period, as there would be another kerfuffle later on.
Hayden Verbeek’s slashing penalty put a dent in the comeback plans, but again the Laval penalty killers and Charlie Lindgren came up big, keeping Manitoba off the board. Like the previous Laval power play, this one was littered by a handful of penalties involving both sides before the man advantage expired. Behind a board battle Alexandre Alain and Seth Griffith continued to hack at each other, before Griffith turned and clocked Alain in the face with his stick.
Seth Griffith lucky to be given just four minutes in penalties for slashing Alexandre Alain in the face. pic.twitter.com/N84460fbC1— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 11, 2019
This sent the two sides to four on four hockey, until Ouellet wiped that out with a holding penalty, and that put the pressure on Laval to pull a miracle off in the closing minutes. They looked like they added a goal thanks to David Schlemko, but again the whistle blew and wiped out a potential goal. Joël Bouchard would then pull Lindgren, but Jansen Harkins buried an empty net goal to seal the game with just over three minutes left. Then things got scary for the Rocket and their goalie. A turnover resulted in a Marko Dano goal, but Lindgren rolled over and slammed his blocker on the ice, looking to be in extreme discomfort, and he will meet with the training staff to assess his status for the next game.
Bit concerning, bad turnover leads to a Marko Dano goal, but Lindgren looks to be in some serious discomfort afterwards. pic.twitter.com/F9P7T0MwE0— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 11, 2019
These two teams have Friday off, but will clash again on Saturday night in Winnipeg once again, and the Rocket may be without Lindgren depending on his health status following the loss tonight.
1. Eric Comrie (Win, 35 Saves, Shutout)
2. Jansen Harkins (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
3. Cameron Schilling (1 Goal)