In a game where the goaltenders made huge saves in a game that had no business being as low-scoring as it was, the defining play may have been a blunder by one of those goaltenders.
Manitoba Moose goaltender Mikhail Berdin went out to play the puck behind the net but the pass was intercepted by Alex Belzile. Belzile passed the puck to Michael Chaput in the slot who took his time, and shot it past the Moose goaltender after he got back into the net.
The goal made the score 2-1, and Alex Kile would score later in the period to make it 3-1, which is how the game between the Laval Rocket and Moose ended on Saturday afternoon at Place Bell.
“We knew that he’s a good puck handler,” said Belzile about the Moose goaltender. “Those are the little things we practice, pucks in the air, so I anticipated it, I knew the puck was going to be there and then I trusted Michael to be in the slot, he has a great shot and it was a big goal to make it 2-1.”
“I thought I scored on one of my earlier chances, Chaput said. “He made two big saves on me when I shot high, so on the third I told myself I was going to shoot low.”
Berdin is perhaps most known for the goal he scored in the USHL, or perhaps more specifically, the celebration following the goal. He was really good for the entire game as there was no reason for the game to be 1-1 after two periods. Berdin made 19 saves.
On the other side Charlie Lindgren was incredible for the Rocket, making 31 saves in the win including 13 in the third period alone.
Like the night before, a penalty opened the door for the Moose, but, like the night before, it was the penalty kill unit that took advantage. Brett Lernout started the play to Chaput who started a two-on-one with Dale Weise. Weise kept the puck and fired it past Berdin for his second goal as a Rocket.
The Rocket penalty kill went 4/4 to make it a perfect 10/10 on the weekend, and scored two short handed goals in the process.
“We did a great job, everyone who played shorthanded,” Chaput said. “[Rocket assistant coach Daniel Jacob] did a great job to get us prepared. We were focused and it showed.”
The Moose tied the game later in the period. The first two shots by Kristian Reichel and Alexis D’Aoust were saved by Lindgren, but both Rocket defenders went after D’Aoust leaving Felix Girard all alone to put the puck past the Laval goaltender.
The goal started a stretch of strong play from the Moose. Although the Rocket started the game with a 5-1 advantage in shots, they were evened up later in the period before eventually ending 8-7 for Laval.
With under two minutes to go in the period, Alexandre Alain and Jimmy Oligny traded slashes and ended up in a bear hug behind the Manitoba net, both going off for slashing leading to some four-on-four action and showing some of the carryover hostility that occurs when teams play two games in less than 24 hours.
Goaltending was the story of the second period with both Berdin and Lindgren making unbelievable saves throughout the period.
A great passing play led to a big Berdin save on Evans. And another show of chemistry between the line of Alex Belzile, Alexandre Grenier and Chaput led to a great sliding save by the Manitoba goaltender.
Lindgren was also up to the task when the Rocket took some penalties in the period. He made several big saves in close, and then a great save on Marko Dano after Reichel made two great cross-ice passes later on.
With the goalie pulled in the third period, Logan Stanley had two great chances at the right circle. The first one was stopped by Lindgren in similar fashion to the one on Dano, and the second went wide.
“It feels good for a second, then you have to settle your emotions down and focus on the next puck,” Lindgren said about the big saves.
“Hats off to Charlie,” Belzile said. “He made big save after big save.”
When Laval got another power play later in the period, Berdin once again stepped up to make a great save.
The line of Chaput, Belzile and Alexandre Grenier were great all game, but they really came out strong in the third period causing havoc on every shift, even if it didn’t always end with a goal.
Alex Kile used his speed a couple of times in the period, first on a rush that created a wraparound chance with rebounds going to Alexandre Alain and Lukas Vejdemo, and then again when he scored the goal to make it 3-1 on a great individual effort.
“It was a good example of our competitive side,” said head coach Joēl Bouchard. “It was a race where two players went for the puck and Alex showed an impressive effort, put the puck on net and beat the goaltender.”
But the big story was the Rocket play in the defensive zone, especially with the lead. Jake Evans made nice play to tie up Dano in front of the net. Dano smashed his stick against the boards as he was going off for a change.
“It was a win because of the details. A lot of investment in terms of blocked shots, battles that we won in important places. The guys really executed what we wanted to do, in the entire game but especially the third period, even when the game was tied, we were the better team for most of the third period. We had energy. We created chances.”
The Rocket continue their playoff push Thursday and Friday as they travel to Cleveland to face the Monsters for two big games.
- Xavier Ouellet missed the game after learning that his mother passed away. He was replaced in the lineup by Ryan Culkin. The team held a moment of silence before the game.