Rocket 2 Marlies 3
With the Christmas holiday come and gone the Laval Rocket were finally back in action after a seven day break between games. In their last contest, a lack of discipline cost their beleaguered lineup badly as the Utica Comets power play ran wild in the final minutes to knock off a feisty Rocket side. The break brought some good news, as Michael McCarron escaped suspension for his tantrum at an official, and Charles Hudon was healthy enough to play once again.
Keith Kinkaid started for the Rocket, looking to build on his 1-1-1 record for the Rocket, and opposing him was an always formidable Toronto Marlies team. Led by Kenny Agostino and Pontus Aberg, the offence of the Marlies was a hard one to contain on any given night. Starting in net for the Marlies was Kasimir Kaskisuo, and they were without Adam Brooks and Martin Marincin who were in the NHL on recall.
Neither goalie really had much to do in net for the opening 10 minutes or so. Shots were few and far between as both teams did well to break up chances with stick work and positioning in the offensive zone. The best chances came from the stick of Joe Cox, who was a hound in the defensive zone, and used some slick moves to get into dangerous areas in the offensive zone, but without a goal to show for it. Some slick play between Charles Hudon and Jake Evans resulted in the former having a clear lane in the slot, but he fired his shot over the net and just wide.
As the final minutes of the period drew closer, the Rocket found their legs, with Evans and Hudon again creating great looks, including Hudon nearly wrapping a puck into the net after wide shot by Otto Leskinen. Following that Michael McCarron rang a shot off the post behind Kaskisuo, and Ralph Cuddemi took advantage of a bad turnover to fire a close-range chance on net as well.
While the period ended scoreless, Leskinen did a huge lap of the Marlies zone, keeping the puck on a string as a weaved through defenders . The Finnish defender kept collecting his shot attempts, finally culminating in a shot that sailed just wide of the corner as the horn sounded.
The second period began with an early power play for the Rocket, with Timothy Liljegren sitting for elbowing Michael McCarron. The man advantage yielded one very good look, it was just for the Marlies after a lazy drop pass by Evan McEneny, but Keith Kinkaid held the puck off the line with his pad. Then it was Kaskisuo’s turn to rob the Rocket, with a lunging save on a highlight reel setup by Nikita Jevpalovs, and then again on Joe Cox right in front of his net. A tripping call on Dale Weise sent Toronto to an advantage of their own, stalling the Laval momentum for a moment.
Unlike the Rocket, the Marlies cashed in on their advantage with Jeremy Bracco threading a pass to Pontus Aberg, who ripped the one-timer over Kinkaid’s shoulder for the opening goal. The Marlies didn’t stop their either, turning an odd-man rush into a second goal just 23 seconds later with Kale Kossila slamming home a rebound and then adding one more 36 seconds after that to take a commanding three goal lead.
As is often the case between these two teams, no lead is particularly safe, and a Kenny Agostino slashing penalty gave the Rocket just the chance they needed. Less than a minute into their advantage Alexandre Alain slid a pass back to Evan McEneny on the point, and McEneny powered a shot by Kaskisuo to break the Marlies’ shutout bid.
Evan McEneny scores on the power play with a massive slap shot, his first goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/QJR4CaJoQO— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 28, 2019
The Rocket took their new found momentum and stormed right back down the ice, and just 28 seconds later a point shot by Gustav Olofsson was tipped by Kaskisuo by Yannick Veilleux, his second goal since joining the Rocket last week.
28 seconds later Yannick Veilleux tips a Gustav Olofsson shot and makes it a one goal game. pic.twitter.com/PJ77ZXCpn0— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 28, 2019
Charles Hudon and Jeremy Bracco continued their on-ice jousting, with Bracco and Joseph Duszak fighting through officials and other players to try and get a piece of him. When the horn blew to end the period the Rocket had Hudon in the box and Toronto had Duszak sitting, but Laval was trailing by just a single goal.
The Rocket came out flying to start the third period. Cayden Primeau replaced Keith Kinkaid in net as Kinkaid was cramping up. They did well keeping the Marlies off the shot counter, and kept the pucks flying at Kaskisuo with regularity. The pressure eventually forced Pontus Aberg into a penalty behind the play and putting Laval on another power play. The power play didn’t get much zone time, but when they did they created havoc in front of the net, and despite not scoring they were given another chance shortly after thanks to a Toronto elbowing penalty.
The man advantage again piled on the chances, but could not find the back of the net behind Kaskisuo. The ice was firmly tilted in Laval’s favour, as the Marlies were clearly clinging to their one goal lead, and unable to generate any momentum of their of own. Laval however could not find a last second goal, and a missed trip on Jake Evans allowed the Marlies to kill off the short time remaining.
These two sides will square off tomorrow as part of a double-header at Place Bell alongside the PWHPA Pro Challenge, featuring 17 Olympians as the Montreal chapter of the PWHPA faces off against a team from Minnesota. The Rocket game starts at 3:00 with the PWHPA game going at 6:30. A ticket to the Rocket game gets you access to both games.