The Laval Rocket returned to Place Bell for a Wednesday night meeting with the Toronto Marlies on the heels of their first road trip to the United States in over two years. It started with an outstanding 4-0 shutout of the Providence Bruins, and ended with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Bridgeport Islanders.
The team had a massive challenge in front of it with the Marlies, a team that always gives the Rocket fits. J.-F. Houle opted to break his alternating starts for goalies in this game, with Cayden Primeau getting the start instead of Michael McNiven (despite the latter voicing his displeasure with his playing time earlier in the week), and also made AHL vet Kevin Roy a healthy scratch after a slow start to his season.
After a lacklustre showing in Bridgeport, the Rocket needed a quick start out of the gate against their rival. They got just that thanks to Michael Pezzetta putting himself in the perfect spot at the right time. A puck bounced to Tobie Paquette-Bisson at the point, and the Rocket defender fired a low shot that bounced in on Joseph Woll. The Marlies’ netminder kicked the shot right into the path of Pezzetta, who easily deposited the rebound for a lead just under two minutes into the game.
Michael Pezzetta gets Laval on the board early, cashing in on a huge rebound from Joseph Woll pic.twitter.com/6ocjOyyacc— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
Things got ugly after the opening goal, with Rafaël Harvey-Pinard on the receiving end of a bad hit to the head from Alex Biega. The Marlies defenceman was given five and a game misconduct for his infraction, while Harvey-Pinard was helped to the locker room.
Alex Biega with a terrible shot to the head of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
He was given five and a game, and RHP would return later in the period. pic.twitter.com/yT9BMIsQcx
Despite the blatant cheap shot to their teammate, the Rocket kept their focus on the game at hand and used the ensuing power-play time to secure a pair of goals to push them further ahead of Toronto.
First was Louie Belpedio getting his first in a Laval uniform. The puck was cycled deep into the zone for Danick Martel behind the Marlies’ net, Martel spun and put a pass right on Belpedio’s stick in the slot. The Rocket rearguard uncorked a wicked shot that destroyed Woll’s water bottle and doubled the Rocket lead.
Danick Martel sets up Louie Belpedio for his first goal as a Rocket! pic.twitter.com/Meiy2G0W4o— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
With time still remaining on the major penalty, Kirill Semyonov was called for cross-checking, giving the Rocket a massive five-on-three opportunity. Laval made the absolute most of it, as Xavier Ouellet and Jesse Ylönen played catch with the puck until Ylönen was in position to release a wicked slapshot on net. The initial shot was blocked in front of Woll, but it bounced right to Laurent Dauphin, who fired home his fifth goal of the year to make it a three-goal Rocket lead.
Laurent Dauphin continues his hot start to the year, potting his fifth of the season on the power play! pic.twitter.com/ZbvIWWGHep— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
Laval ran out the remainder of the first period by piling up a massive shot advantage. However, the first period ended with quite the kerfuffle, naturally involving none other than Pezzetta. The Rocket agitator hit Brett Seney a bit late as the first period came to an end, and Seney took exception, throwing Pezzetta in a headlock on the ice and wailing away. Once Pezzetta regained some of his faculties he got to his feet and hammered Seney with a few swift blows to bring a quick end to the tussle.
Seney didn't like the hit from Pezzetta(It was late to be fair), so he throws down and it goes...Poorly pic.twitter.com/kE09Z3Qb2R— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
When all was said and done, both combatants were given two for roughing and five for fighting.
The second period started with the Rocket going down a man as Gianni Fairbrother was called for slashing just over two minutes in. Some steady play between the pipes from Primeau and timely clears allowed the Rocket to escape the penalty unscathed.
Once Fairbrother exited the box, he immediately made up for his minor penalty. He flipped a puck ahead into the Marlies’ zone. Brennan Menell misplayed it, allowing Laurent Dauphin to swoop in and break in alone on Woll. Dauphin finished with a nice deke to slide the puck five-hole and push the Rocket lead up to four goals.
Laurent Dauphin takes advantage of Brennan Menell's error and it's 4-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/utMbNuXhLw— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
Tempers again boiled over after Rich Clune ran over Brandon Gignac in the offensive zone, and Brandon Baddock wasn’t having any of it. Baddock immediately challenged the Marlies captain, dropping him with a quick punch and causing the officials to step in despite Clune’s continued attempts to get back at Baddock.
While the Marlies never really threatened the Rocket’s four-goal lead as the period wore on, Laval added one more goal for good measure. It was Fairbrother working his magic from the point as he held the puck for a moment before firing a slap-pass to J.-S. Dea along the goal line. Dea had a wide-open net to fire the puck into and he did so with ease to chase Woll from the game before the second period ended.
What a pass from Gianni Fairbrother to J-S Dea to make it five goals for Laval pic.twitter.com/UNMUj9VxCs— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
While the first two periods had some semblance of game flow and progress, the third period was a sluggish, penalty-laden mess on both sides. It started with Kurtis Gabriel being shown the door for shoving Primeau after the whistle, and then the two teams traded penalties on and off for the next 10-plus minutes. After Pezzetta served his two minutes for running over the Marlies netminder for no reason, everything came completely unglued.
Menell low-bridged Pezzetta as he entered the zone, Jean-Cristophe Beaudin shoved him, and then all hell broke loose as Curtis Douglas, Gabriel, Clune, Jack Kopacka and Menell partnered off with Beaudin, Belpedio, Gabriel Bourque and Fairbrother in a full-on donnybrook.
Here's why, Menell goes low on Pezzetta and then all hell breaks loose pic.twitter.com/onYU3eDwZg— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 28, 2021
When the dust had settled, Laval had a seven-minute power play that allowed them to close out the game with no more incidents and to give Primeau his first shutout of the season.
Final Score: Laval 5, Toronto 0
Laval now has a day off before they welcome the Rochester Americans to Place Bell for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday.
- Laurent Dauphin (2 Goals)
- Michael Pezzetta (1 Goal)
- Cayden Primeau (Win, 21 Saves, Shutout)