The opening minutes of Wednesday’s game were a bright start for the Laval Rocket even if the shots were next to none on the official scoresheet. Jan Mysak nearly opened the scoring after collecting a Joël Teasdale pass in the slot, but Abbotsford Canucks goaltender Colin Delia was there to swallow up the chance, and not allow a rebound.
Laval used its speed to continue to put the Canucks back on their heels, opening up space for chances by Mitchell Stephens and Peter Abbandonato as well, but there wasn’t an opening goal to be found quite yet. At the other end of the ice, Cayden Primeau was dialed in as a he stopped John Stevens in close after a bit of errant puck-handling by his defence.
Laval’s relentless offensive-zone pressure forced the Canucks into making errors in their own zone and eventually it led to the game’s opening goal. A Canucks turnover allowed the Rocket to carry the puck deep and Anthony Richard held it, looking for a passing lane. When one didn’t open up he fired a shot on net that rebounded to Jesse Ylönen, who swatted it back to the slot. Richard stepped into the puck and fired his 10th goal of the year home to open up the scoring.
Anthony Richard is the first AHL skater to ten goals on the year as he opens the scoring at Place Bell!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 17, 2022
1-0 Rocket. pic.twitter.com/l7d23DCLH5
A Canucks power play was fought off with relative ease by the Rocket, and before long the lead was doubled. A Madison Bowey slapshot hit off of Lucas Condotta, who was toppling over Delia in the Canucks’ crease creating a loose rebound. Corey Schueneman jumped all over it, and roofed his shot by a diving Delia, who was incensed after being run over in his crease.
I cannot believe that this goal counts and there was no review.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 17, 2022
Corey Schueneman makes it 2-0 for the Rocket! pic.twitter.com/mgptXixIRw
There was no review on the play as none is required by the AHL rules, giving the Rocket a two-goal advantage entering the final minutes of the first period.
A Stephens penalty gave the Canucks a late lifeline in the period, and they took it. Tristen Nielsen worked his way inside of Tory Dello, allowing him to direct a Justin Dowling pass easily by Primeau to cut the Rocket lead in half.
A late power play had a few looks, but wasn’t able to convert before the horn sounded, leaving the Rocket with a short power play to start period two.
Laval didn’t cash in on their abbreviated advantage, and soon found itself on a kill of its own as Justin Barron went off for high-sticking. The penalty-killers performed much more admirably than their first effort, and before long Barron was exiting the box with the Rocket lead intact.
Upon his exit, Barron was able to collect a leading pass from Dello that sent him into the offensive zone. He snapped a shot in on net, and a rebound bounced through the slot, where Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was all over it to fire a shot through Delia’s five-hole to make it a 3-1 game.
Justin Barron out of the box creates a chance and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard finishes it off.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 17, 2022
3-1 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/CxeefzDkQo
The ice continued to be tilted in favour of the Rocket and it seemed like they weren’t far off from adding to their lead, coming close a number of times. The closest was Abbandonato, who had an open look on net, but hammered it off the crossbar.
The period ended less than gracefully as the Rocket took one penalty with Harvey-Pinard heading to the box for hooking, then before the penalty-killers could escape the period and the kill unscathed, Schueneman was given a double-minor for high-sticking. While Laval did escape the period without a goal against, they had nearly three-and-a-half minutes of penalty time left to kill off to start the third.
The Canucks pushed hard to start the final period to try to cut into Laval’s lead, but the penalty-killers came up with a heroic kill in the opening minutes to keep the two-goal advantage intact. The Rocket turned their pressure back up at even strength, and out of that drew a power play of their own. The man advantage struggled to keep the pressure on and failed to add to the lead.
Things got worse for Laval as Jett Woo blindsided Xavier Simoneau with a shot to the head through the neutral zone, leaving the Rocket forward crumpled on the ice. No penalty was called on the play as the Rocket regained control of the puck.
A gutless, blindside headshot from Jett Woo knocks Xavier Simoneau out of the game in Laval.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 17, 2022
There was no penalty on the play. pic.twitter.com/1dXu2tJGZr
The Rocket didn’t let the hit go unpunished, however, as on Woo’s next shift he was challenged first by Lucas Condotta before Joël Teasdale didn’t give him the option to turn down a fight. Teasdale likely edged the decision in a spirited fight as a bit of revenge.
Joël Teasdale gets his hands on Jett Woo after his hit on Xavier Simoneau.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 17, 2022
Spirited fight after Woo refused to fight Lucas Condotta first. pic.twitter.com/9RE5G8x9pa
A Gabriel Bourque tripping penalty threatened to put the Rocket in a precarious situation at the end of the game. However, Richard pushed the Rocket lead to three as he nailed an empty-net goal on the fly to give Laval some breathing room.
It ended up being crucial as Lane Pederson drew one back shortly after as the Canucks power play continued, setting up a nervy final two minutes. The Rocket managed to keep the Canucks at bay and earn a gutsy win on home ice after a disappointing weekend trip.
Final Score: Laval 4, Abbotsford 2