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Rocket vs. Crunch recap and highlights: Jake Evans’ overtime winner downs Syracuse

The Rocket earn an important two points in their playoff push.

Club de hockey Canadien, inc

Charles Hudon and Jake Evans combined on a two-on-one just six seconds into overtime as the Laval Rocket defeated the Syracuse Crunch 3-2 on Wednesday night at Place Bell.

It was a fitting way for the game to end for Evans, who had a strong game at both ends of the rink.

The win earned the Rocket a big two points as they continue their push towards a playoff spot. They are now two points up on the Toronto Marlies for the final spot in the North Division although the Marlies have two games in hand. Laval is only percentage points behind the Marlies in points percentage.

The Rocket had an early power play opportunity but it was Syracuse who opened the scoring while shorthanded. Gemel Smith was led on a breakaway by Daniel Walcott after Evan McEneny got caught at the blue line and beat Cayden Primeau five hole.

Laval tied it 56 seconds later at even strength when Alexandre Alain’s shot was tipped by Lukas Vejdemo in front of Scott Wedgewood to make it a 1-1 hockey game. It was Vejdemo’s ninth goal of the season and first since his time in the NHL.

Syracuse re-took a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the first period when good passing between Ross Colton and Taylor Raddysh led to Raddysh beating Primeau with 21 seconds remaining in the period and three seconds remaining in the penalty to Evan McEneny.

Fireworks continued in the heated final minute when Michael Pezzetta hit Daniel Walcott with a high hit and there was no call on the play but with less than three seconds left in the period, Walcott and Pezzetta would go off for fighting and Walcott got an instigator penalty to give the Rocket another power play chance.

To open the second period, Riley Barber had a chance just as the penalty was expiring but was unable to beat Wedgewood.

Less than five minutes into the period, after a save on Kevin Lynch, Wedgewood appeared to tweak something and was forced to leave the game after making six saves on seven shots. Spencer Martin came in to replace him.

Midway through the second period, Jake Evans was hauled down by Patrick Sieloff into Martin. Then, a scrum ensued that led to four additional players being taken to the penalty box for roughing. Because Walcott was still in the box serving his 10 minute misconduct, the four Crunch players ran out of bench space.

On the ensuing power play for the original penalty, Riley Barber held the puck and made a pass to Varone driving to net who scored his second goal of the season to make it 2-2.

Early in the third period, after the Rocket killed a late second period penalty, Josh Brook took a loose puck from Alain and his backhand deke was stopped by Martin’s outstretched blocker. Martin made 18 saves in relief.

The two teams traded power plays and scoring chances in the third period but Martin and Primeau made saves on either end to make sure that both teams earned a point as the game went to overtime. Primeau made 21 saves in the victory.

Notes & Thoughts

  • Josh Brook returned to defence after two games at forward, and Joël Bouchard’s goal to make him think less appeared to bear fruit. Brook has great instincts but like any young defender can tend to play to not make mistakes instead of letting those instincts out. Brook made good defensive plays and smart plays with the puck.
  • With Jake Evans, Lukas Vejdemo, and Phil Varone, the Rocket are deeper down the middle than they have ever been. Kevin Lynch also provides some great depth.
  • Laval continues their week with a two-game road trip in Rochester and Binghamton on Friday and Saturday.