You could excuse the Laval Rocket if their effort level fell off in the season’s final week. With three games remaining, all on the road, and an ever-growing injured list, you could imagine how the Rocket would just want the season to end.
And while they didn’t come away with the win, they outplayed the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday night. The Rocket dominated most of play, outshooting the team currently sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference 32-20.
The Rocket held an 8-2 shot advantage midway through the first period, but it was Bridgeport who opened the scoring. Kieffer Bellows scored his 12th goal of the season on a rebound to beat Michael McNiven with less than five minutes remaining.
Despite an otherwise strong period from the Rocket, the Sound Tigers get on the board first. pic.twitter.com/3h9MEnI6HM— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) April 10, 2019
To start the second period, the Rocket tied the game. Just over four minutes into the middle frame, Alex Kile left the penalty box after taking a hooking penalty and be sprung by Alexandre Alain. Kile went forehand, backhand and beat Christopher Gibson.
Alex Kile gets out of the penalty box and Alain feeds him a breakaway pass to make it 1-1. pic.twitter.com/R51B5RdUTE— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) April 10, 2019
The tie lasted 56 seconds before Bridgeport retook the lead. Stephen Gionta started and finish a two-on-one before beating McNiven to give the Sound Tigers the 2-1 lead the game would end at.
Less than a minute later the Sound Tigers re-claim their lead on a two-on-one. pic.twitter.com/NirwmNS9TS— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) April 10, 2019
The third period started with Laval getting several opportunities. Michael Pezzetta and Philippe Hudon combined to create a chance in the slot, but Pezzetta missed the net.
Nikita Jevpalovs had a chance, with a spin-o-rama on a rebound, but Gibson sprawled to make the save.
The Sound Tigers had a chance of their own when Steve Bernier hit the post past McNiven late in the third period, and that gave the Rocket some hope of getting back and tying the game.
Laval had an even better chance to tie the game in the final moments. With 1:50 remaining, the Bridgeport bench took an unsportsmanlike penalty. Joël Bouchard pulled McNiven to have a six-on-four advantage.
The Rocket had control of the puck for most of the time, and Daniel Audette had an open net at the left circle but could not hit the spot, and the game ended at 2-1.
Laval has two games remaining, in Syracuse on Friday night, and then finishing the season in Binghamton on Saturday.
Thoughts & Notes
- The injury list for the Rocket had some specifics given out. Jake Evans has a left arm injury, Lukas Vejdemo has a concussion, Alexandre Grenier has a broken jaw and eight broken teeth, Antoine Waked has a left shoulder injury, and Morgan Adams-Moisan has a thumb fracture.
- Josh Brook had more responsibility as the Rocket decided to scratch Brett Lernout. Bouchard said that the veterans on defence will rotate the three remaining games to allow youngsters like Brook, David Sklenicka, and Cale Fleury to get regular shifts with six defenders. Brook had his best game so far. The Rocket also wanted to play 12 forwards giving try outs like Hudon and Matthew Struthers the chance to play on a regular line.