The Laval Rocket have lost games this year. They’ve lost in regulation, they’ve lost in overtime, but on Monday night they lost everywhere on the ice in Ottawa. The Rocket never found a gear outside of neutral, and a Belleville side hungry for their second win of the year picked them apart without much issue. It was a harsh loss, one that the entire team and coaching staff took to heart.
Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long for their rematch, clashing with the Sens again on Wednesday night. Joël Bouchard opted to re-insert Arsen Khisamutdinov and Jan Myšák into the lineup over Jake Lucchini and Michael Pezzetta. Cayden Primeau once again got the nod, looking to bounce back from a difficult showing as well.
The Rocket jumped out much quicker than they did on Monday, collecting a trio of shots against Filip Gustavsson before Belleville registered their first. It was the Senators who had the the best scoring chances to open the game, as Otto Leskinen was called for a slash and put Belleville on an early power play. The Rocket penalty-killers, and especially Primeau, weathered an early surge, before killing off the two-minute minor and returning play to five-on-five.
At even strength the Rocket looked much more like their old selves, firing shots from all angles and forcing the Senators’ defence back on its heels, but thanks to some calm goaltending by Gustavsson the game remained scoreless.
The pressure from the Rocket drew a penalty of their own, giving the power play a chance to break open the scoreless game. The Laval man advantage tested the Senators’ penalty-killers repeatedly, with a strong cycle and plenty of traffic in front of the net, but they were unable to convert.
Joël Teasdale nearly gave Laval the lead with an outstanding rush late in the period, dekeing one Senator so hard he fell over, but his pass to the net-front just missed a stick and went for naught. At the end of the first the game was scoreless, but Laval held an advantage on the shot counter, 14-10.
The Rocket pressure did not cease in the second period, as they rolled all four of their lines and kept the Senators hemmed in their own zone. Even when the Senators pushed into the Laval zone they were quickly repelled and the Rocket attack began again.
While the Rocket were in firm control of the game and were launching odd-man rushes with ease, Gustavsson was robbing Laval, including an incredible pad save along the goal line.
Laval wasn’t able to convert on their second power-play chance, despite ringing two shots off the posts behind Gustavasson, but that didn’t slow down the team at all. With play back at even strength, the Rocket managed to control the offensive zone like they were still operating on a power play.
Finally, the Rocket broke the deadlock thanks to a major error by the Senators’ defence, and the quick reactions of Lukas Vejdemo. Alex Belzile circled the Belleville net, and as he did Jack Dougherty shoved Yannick Veilleux into Gustavsson. Belzile centred a pass that bounced off the prone Veilleux, and right to Vejdemo who swept it into the open net for his fourth goal of the year.
Lukas Vejdemo finally breaks the deadlock, scoring his 4th goal of the year.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 11, 2021
1-0 Laval! pic.twitter.com/tVHCXgDvq7
Despite Troy Mann’s protests the goal stood, and was all the Rocket needed to head into the intermission with the lead. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact they outshot the Sens 21-2 in the second period, arguably their most dominant period ever under Joël Bouchard.
Even with the lead the Rocket were not content to sit back, and they once again came out and played like they were on a constant power play, and the Senators had no answers. Then the relentless attack found a hole in Gustavsson’s armour, and it was the rookie Mysak who delivered the blow. Josh Brook fired a pass up to Brandon Baddock, who laid a pass off to Mysak who was driving the net. Mysak hit the brakes and then deftly slid a backhand shot through Gustavsson’s five hole for his first goal.
Jan Myšák gets his first professional goal in North America!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 11, 2021
Rocket lead 2-0! pic.twitter.com/ecUm94w84z
The Rocket offered a final chance late in the third period when Vejdemo took a seat for high-sticking in the offensive zone. The Senators threatened on a few chances, then Vitaly Abramov got a clean look in the slot and snapped the shutout bid.
Alex Belzile took that personally, and off the ensuing faceoff he took a pass from Vejdemo, shook off a defender, and broke in on net. Belzile pump-faked the slapshot, then wired his first goal of the year right by Gustavsson to seal the victory for Laval.
Final Score: Laval 3, Belleville 1
After putting on a stinker on Monday night, the Rocket came out and did exactly what they needed to on Wednesday, dominating the Senators bell-to-bell. The Rocket now will head down the 401 for a two game set with Alex Galchenyuk and the Toronto Marlies.
- Filip Gustavsson (45 Saves)
- Alex Belzile (1G, 1A)
- Josh Brook (1A)