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Laval vs. Toronto recap & highlights: Xavier Simoneau’s clutch goal steals the Rocket a point

The young stars of the Rocket helped the team snag a point on Friday night.

Laval Rocket

In what was becoming a regular occurrence, the Laval Rocket rolled into Friday night at Place Bell looking to bounce back from a frustrating loss earlier in the week. Despite nearly 50 shots on goal on Wednesday against Toronto, the Rocket fell 7-4 after getting within a goal late in the third period.

The lineup for the Rocket was a bit beleaguered heading into the game as Nate Schnarr and William Trudeau were on the injured list indefinitely while team captain Alex Belzile was again unavailable due to a minor injury. On defence, Nicolas Beaudin made his Rocket debut alongside Tory Dello on the third pair, replacing Otto Leskinen and Madison Bowey. In net it was Cayden Primeau again getting the start for Laval.

The Rocket had the game’s first chance, with Brandon Gignac trying to jam home a chance off a feed from Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, but he was denied by Dylan Ferguson at the top of the crease. The Marlies then went the other way, and scored on their first shot that fooled Cayden Primeau entirely as he whiffed with his glove on the attempted save.

Frustrations were rising early on as the Rocket kept finding high-danger chances in open ice, but they weren’t able to solve the quick pads of Dylan Ferguson who kept them at bay early on. The speed of the Rocket eventually broke down the opposing goaltender as the top line made amends for their early missed chances. Brandon Gignac sent Jesse Ylönen ahead with pace and the shifty Finn cut across the front of net before neatly tucking the puck home to tie the game.

Missed chances immediately came back to bite the Rocket again though as Anthony Richard missed a one-time setup, allowing Adam Gaudette to go the other way down the ice, and put Toronto back into the lead just under three minutes after the Rocket’s tying goal.

The period continued much like it started from there, with the Rocket hammering away and just narrowly misfiring on prime opportunities or being stopped by Ferguson in close. As the first period came to a close the Rocket held a small lead in shots, and very likely should have been leading by no less than two goals as well.

After a clean start to the game, the Marlies were whistled for the game’s first penalty, putting Laval on a much-needed power play. Just under a minute in, that man advantage became two for Laval, but even with the extra power-play time the results remained the same. The Rocket crashed around the net, poking and prodding for loose rebounds, but the finish lacked as chances were pushed wide of the net with Ferguson down and out, leaving Toronto in the lead as the game crossed the midway point.

A penalty to Beaudin for slashing sent Toronto to a power play of their own with eight minutes left to play in the period. Unlike the Rocket, the Marlies took advantage of a goalie sprawling to keep the puck out as Logan Shaw fired his fourth goal of the year by a diving Cayden Primeau to double the Marlies’ advantage.

Rocket spark plug Xavier Simoneau refused to let the game get further out of hand, and his relentless forechecking created a second goal for his team. With the puck in deep inside the Toronto zone, Simoneau hammered Curtis Douglas, a player a foot taller than him, and stole the puck in the process. Simoneau then put a pass into the slot where Lucas Condotta smashed it by Ferguson to make it a one-goal game once again.

Laval was able to end the period on a high note, fending off a late Toronto power play to enter the second intermission with momentum tilting slightly in their favour.

While the first two periods were about flashy offensive chances and missed opportunities, the third period belonged heavily to the goaltenders. First was Ferguson going full windmill with his glove to take away a shot labelled for the upper part of his net. Not to be outdone, Primeau snapped a close-range Adam Gaudette snapshot out of the air to keep the deficit at just one goal.

Another power play chance was squandered by the Rocket as they struggled to open up any shooting lanes to try to even the score up. The missed chance bit them once more as a loose puck behind the net was swatted around by Joey Anderson to the front of the Laval net, and Shaw muscled through the crowd to poke home his second goal of the night.

Despite the two-goal deficit, the Rocket came storming back to keep their faint hopes of a win alive with just a few minutes left to play. Simoneau got the puck in deep to Ylönen below the goal line, Ylönen fed it to Anthony Richard who was open in the slot, and after his shot it was Rafaël Harvey-Pinard who poked it home to make it a one goal game.

With just over a minute to play, Jordie Benn handed the Rocket a massive chance as he was called for a cross-check in the defensive zone. With just 33 seconds left on the clock, it was the rookie Simoneau making a bit more magic for the Rocket. Ylönen fed a pass to Brandon Gignac and Gignac put it right on Simoneau’s stick at the side of the night for the tying goal to force overtime at Place Bell.

A turnover by Justin Barron in overtime did little to help the Rocket try steal a second point from the Marlies. It left the Rocket with a crucial penalty kill with just over three minutes left in the extra period.

That penalty ended up being the difference-maker once again as Shaw completed his hat trick with a long wrister through traffic to give Toronto the victory.

Final Score: Toronto 5, Laval 4(OT)

For the Rocket, it stings to only earn one point, but it’s a hard-fought point earned by the young prospects on the team, which is just as important.

The club has a chance to bounce back this afternoon when they welcome the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to Place Bell for a 3:00 PM puck drop.