After a wild Wednesday night at Place Bell against the Toronto Marlies that featured just shy of 100 penalty minutes, two suspension-worthy infractions, and five goals for the Laval, the Rocket were hoping for a tamer affair on Friday against the Rochester Americans.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was no worse for wear after taking a brutal headshot from Alex Biega on Wednesday night. Cayden Primeau got the nod in net, looking to build on his strong shutout performance in his previous game.
The start was a great one for the Rocket as they rebuffed every Rochester intrusion into their zone, and turned it into a quick counterpunch down the ice. All four lines were rolling as they tested Aaron Dell and the Rochester defence, but a Jean-Sebastien Dea tripping penalty in the offensive zone put the attack on pause.
While the Rocket penalty kill had been a strong point in recent games, the Americans didn’t need long to capitalize on their man advantage. Oskari Laaksonen teed up Jack Quinn for a one-timer and Quinn uncorked a huge shot. Primeau made the initial save, but the rebound popped out to Michael Mersch, who poked it through the smallest opening in Primeau’s pads to open the scoring.
Laval drew the next call, giving them a big chance to erase the early Rochester lead, but in something that was going to become a trend on the night, they pushed hard but failed to get the small bounces to go their way. Rochester got the kill despite the Rocket being the far more aggressive team.
The second period started about as poorly as it could for Laval as Rochester doubled its lead in just over 40 seconds. The visitors pushed Laval deep into their defensive zone while keeping the puck clear of any opposition sticks. Ethan Prow and Brandon David passed it between themselves at the point, with Davidson eventually taking a pass and rocketing it through a screen to beat Primeau.
Laval had their legs moving quickly after that, with Michael Pezzetta causing all kind of issues for the Americans in their zone with his relentless pressure. Even Brandon Baddock was causing trouble as he poked the puck along the boards, and drew a tripping call at the same time.
The Rocket man advantage looked disjointed in their second attempt on the power play, but with the seconds ticking off they managed to find the back of the net with their second unit on the ice. Louie Belpedio dished off to Dea, and as Dea walked deeper into the zone he found a wide-open Corey Schueneman at the opposite point. Dea flicked a pass across the zone and Schueneman stepped into his shot, blistering it by Dell to get Laval on the board.
What a bomb by Corey Schueneman off a JS Dea feed.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 30, 2021
Rocket trail 2-1 pic.twitter.com/WC5YUP6E2R
After their goal, the Rocket set a new plan to just not allow Rochester any kind of meaningful puck possession. They were successful in that regard to, running up 10-1 shot advantage as the period passed the midpoint, forcing ell to make a number of big saves to keep his team’s lead intact.
However, Rochester needed only one more shot to restore their two-goal lead after gaining the zone. Davidson was the catalyst as his low show flew in on Primeau, and again it was Mersch getting just enough of the shot to direct it past Primeau on their second shot of the period.
The Rocket didn’t help their case following the goal, with Gabriel Bourque being called for a hook. Once the Rocket killed that penalty off, Schueneman was sent off for tripping. After struggling to start the period, Primeau was much sharper to end it as the Rocket killed off the second minor and went into the intermission trailing by two goals despite the shot disparity.
The third period got off to a clunky start for Laval as well, with Alex Belzile being called for a hook just 1:14 in. Some smart play kept the puck deep in the Americans’ zone to kill off half of the minor, and some more hard work along the boards took care of the rest as Laval looked to chip away at the deficit.
After testing Dell time and time again, the Rocket were finally able to break through a second time. Ryan Poehling dragged the puck into the slot and fired a shot that rebounded out, and Harvey-Pinard was the first body to it. He grabbed the puck on his backhand and immediately roofed his shot by Dell to get Laval back within a goal with just over six minutes gone in the third period.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard with a wicked backhander and the Rocket are within a goal! pic.twitter.com/k6gySByPuJ— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 30, 2021
As Laval continued to push their opponent back, they ended up drawing another penalty, this time with Poehling being tripped up deep in the offensive zone. The man advantage continued to press, but the Rochester penalty kill stood strong to kill off the minor penalty, and left Laval still trailing by a goal.
It was all Rocket as they battered the Rochester defence, but after a missed holding-the-stick call, the Americans were able to gain the Laval zone and set up shop. From there, Sean Malone teed up Casey Fitzgerald, and the defenceman bombed a fourth goal behind Primeau to restore the two-goal lead.
That lasted less than a minute as the Rocket stormed back down the ice to get themselves back in the game. Primeau left a puck off for Poehling, and the centreman ducked and weaved through the Rochester zone. He pulled up, put a perfect cross-zone feed on the stick of Xavier Ouellet, and the Rocket captain made it a 4-3 game.
Ryan Poehling with the feed and Xavier Ouellet gets his second of the year! pic.twitter.com/QxAZy4ust1— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 30, 2021
The Rocket launched an all-out attack looking for the equalizer, but Dell refused to break as his team tried to survive the final minutes. Laval threw everything they had as they skated with an extra attacker, but every attempt either just missed or was swept away by Dell as Rochester escaped with the narrow victory.
Final Score: Rochester 4, Laval 3
The Rocket won’t have to wait long for their chance at revenge,. The two teams will return to the rink on Saturday at 1:00 PM ET.