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Rocket @ Senators recap & highlights: Justin Barron’s two goals guide Laval to a win

The young prospects steered the Rocket back into the win column on Friday night.

Laval Rocket

Coming off a strong showing but another loss to Abbotsford on Wednesday night, the Laval Rocket were in need of a physical victory as opposed to a moral one. Luckily for them their opponents, the Belleville Senators, were missing no less than seven of their regulars due to injuries, recalls, and illness. While the Rocket were still missing some of their regulars, they were in prime position to come away with a win.

Despite the Senators missing so many of their regular starters, they jumped out of the gate faster than the Rocket, not allowing Laval any space to break out or create offensive chances. As they kept the Rocket on their heels, the Senators found the back of the net on their third shot of the game, with Matthew Boucher catching part of an Xavier Bernard shot to deflect it by Cayden Primeau just two-and-a-half minutes into the first period.

It ended up being several minutes before the Rocket managed to register a shot on goal. With a scramble around the Belleville crease seeing several pucks trickle just wide of the open cage, the chances seemed to help kick the offence into gear. And it helped to finally get the Rocket on the board as well.

Jesse Ylönen passed off to Justin Barron inside the offensive zone with Barron letting a heavy shot go that just missed the net. Otto Leskinen had jumped up into the play and was all over the loose puck to poke it home and tie the game up midway through the first period.

The goal brought some energy to the legs of the Rocket and they spent the rest of the period trying to push themselves in front. The combination of Rem Pitlick and Anthony Richard caused the Belleville defence trouble due to their speed, while Jan Mysak was efficient at getting the puck into scoring areas for his linemates. However, Belleville did well to block chances, while the Rocket also over-handled the puck a fair bit, leaving the two sides tied heading into the first intermission.

Laval’s strong ending to the first period spilled over into the second, and inside a few minutes the pressure they generated resulted in a five-on-three power-play opportunity. Laval was patient, waiting for the perfect lane to open up, and it paid off as Rem Pitlick fed a pass into Anthony Richard who buried his 12th goal of the year to put Laval on top 2-1.

Richard’s goal opened a floodgate of offence as Laval proceeded to add another two goals inside two-and-a-half minutes. First was Madison Bowey taking a leading feed from Joël Teasdale and teeing up Mysak for a one-timer that the Czech centre buried into the upper corner.

Just over 40 seconds after that, Brandon Gignac collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and pivoted quickly into the offensive zone. Gignac dropped a pass into Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s wheelhouse and the Rocket forward chased Logan Flodell from the contest.

Scott Sabourin quickly drew a goal back to stop the bleeding for a moment, but a Matthew Wedman holding penalty put Laval right back on the attack a minute later. Barron again was commanding the puck on the man advantage and when he finally got it, he made no mistake as his slapshot whizzed by Antoine Bibeau’s ear to make it a 5-2 game.

The mental lapses returned for Laval, though, as they almost instantly gave up a goal to Angus Crookshank that cut the lead down to two goals and gave the Senators a massive lifeline in a game that was getting away from them. To add to that, the Rocket also put them on a late power play with Bowey taking a seat for elbowing.

A strong penalty kill allowed the Rocket to enter the second intermission with a two-goal cushion and a bit of momentum on their side once again.

That momentum vanished instantly as the Senators hemmed the Rocket deep in their own zone for several minutes to start the third period. With a delayed penalty hanging in the air, Brennan Saulnier found Jake Lucchini streaking across the front of goal and the former Rocket player continued to haunt his old team with another big goal.

Things only spiraled further from there as the Rocket took three straight penalties, the second of which allowed the Senators a clean shooting lane that Maxence Guenette used to make it a 5-5 game with half of the third period gone.

Laval somehow managed to grab the lead back with just under five-and-a-half minutes to play, thanks to a seeing-eye point shot. Xavier Simoneau worked the puck to Nicolas Beaudin at the far left point, and from very deep along the blue line, Beaudin snapped a shot through traffic that beat Bibeau to give Laval the lead back.

Scott Sabourin’s lack of composure led to him taking a late penalty, giving Laval a power play that would bring them almost to the final horn of the game. For good measure, the Sens then took another penalty deep in the offensive zone to give Laval a two-man advantage to end the contest.

Barron eventually found the composure to fire a puck into the now empty net from the neutral zone to make it 7-5, but a late penalty threatened the Rocket. Thankfully the defence was able to hold for the final 23 seconds to escape with a win.

Final Score: Laval 7, Belleville 5

These two sides will face off again on Saturday night. It is expected that Kevin Poulin will get the nod in net.