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Laval @ Syracuse recap and highlights: Dale Weise scores in debut, but Rocket fall to the Crunch

The Rocket stumble to end their long road trip, losing 4-2.

Club de Hockey Canadien

The Laval Rocket finally reached the last stop of their long road trip against their North Division rivals, culminating in a Wednesday night showdown with the Syracuse Crunch. The Rocket came into this game riding a three game point streak (2-0-1).

After a seven game losing streak they’ve found their feet again, bolstered by the return of Michael Chaput. Joining the team for this game was Dale Weise after being traded, then recalled, then sent back down Weise made his debut in a Laval sweater.

Charlie Lindgren was in nets for the Rocket, opposite him was Eddie Pasquale for the Crunch.

Like many of their recent contests, the game started slowly in Syracuse with both sides failing to threaten the goalies with any chances of real consequence. As the Rocket took a small lead on the shot clock they also surrendered the first power play of the game, with Daniel Audette taking a seat for elbowing Cory Conacher.

The Rocket penalty killers dispatched the Syracuse man advantage with only one small hiccup. Brett Lernout aggressively went to clear the puck, leaving his partner alone, and forcing Charlie Lindgren to kick out his pad to make a huge save. From there an outstanding block from Xavier Ouellet, and some timely clears by Dale Weise kept the Crunch from threatening further.

The Crunch still opened the scoring, thanks in part to some scrambling in the defensive zone by the Rocket defenders. After a few big saves by Lindgren the puck found it’s way to Gabriel Dumont in front of the net, and the former Canadiens prospect buried his seventh goal of the year. They struck again off a face off just over a minute later, Cory Conacher collected the puck and ripped his 18th of the year to double Syracuse’s lead.

The bleeding stopped quickly however, as the Rocket cut the deficit in half thanks to a smart defensive read by Maxim Lamarche. An errant pass from the Crunch defence trickled into open ice. Lamarche jumped on the chance and drove towards the net, neatly flicking a backhand shot by Pasquale for his second goal of the year to make it 2-1.

That was the scoreline as the teams headed into the first intermission.

After half of the second period ticked by with nothing brewing on either side, the Crunch took advantage of a Laval miscue to restore their two goal lead. David Sklenicka and Maxim Lamarche collided during a line change. Mitchell Stephens then fed Alex Volkov with a breakaway pass who dangled around Lindgren and lifted a backhand shot home for a goal.

Volkov was the goat shortly after, as his tripping penalty handed Laval their first power play of the game. A great cycle on the man advantage moved the puck to Alex Belzile who quickly dished off to Jake Evans. The rookie forward directed a low shot at the net, and a deft deflection by Dale Weise ended up in the back of the net. It was Weise’s first goal since returning to the Canadiens organization.

Two minutes later, Cory Conacher roughed up Daniel Audette leading to a fight between the two, and after that was settled the Rocket headed to another power play. Unlike their previous attempt, this man advantage was disjointed, and failed to generate much of an attack late in the second period.

Much like the first two periods, the third also started slowly, and was compounded by a several minute delay thanks to a pane of glass popping out of place along the end boards. After the delay, the Crunch took control of the game but equal to the task was Charlie Lindgren who had a lunging pad save to deny Alexander Volkov another goal on a wrap around.

The Rocket managed to draw another power play thanks to the suddenly resurgent play of Alexandre Grenier and Michael Chaput. Gabriel Dumont was forced to hook Grenier driving to the net to negate a two on one chance by the veteran forwards, sending Laval to their third man advantage. Despite some serious moves by Nikita Jevpalovs to keep the puck in his possession, the Rocket ended the power play without another goal. Then thanks to a Karl Alzner hook, headed to a penalty kill of their own.

Despite a diving save to start the kill, Lindgren misread a play with the penalty nearing it’s expiration, and Alex Barre-Boulet buried it into the open cage, giving the Crunch a two-goal cushion late in regulation.

The combination of Chaput and Grenier nearly combined for another goal, but a hook from behind slowed down Chaput, and Eddie Pasquale robbed Grenier on his shot attempt. The Rocket power play again failed to create much pressure on their advantage, and with just under three minutes left they pulled Charlie Lindgren for the extra attacker.

A fast and furious push in the final minute was turned away by Pasquale, and the Rocket left Syracuse on the losing side of a 4-2 score. Next up for Laval is a return home to start a weekend series with the Manitoba Moose on Friday night.

Three Stars

1. Alex Barre-Boulet (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
2. Cameron Gaunce (2 Assists)
3. Dale Weise (1 Goal)