Fresh off of seeing their top player called up to the NHL, and after losing 7-4 in a limp effort in Cleveland, the Rocket took the ice once more. There were just two lineup changes, with John Parker-Jones drawing in on the fourth line, and Joe Vrbetic getting the start in goal.
With their leading scorer called up to the NHL, the Rocket needed a strong start from other veterans in the lineup. Alex Belzile obliged as his heavy shot kicked off a lengthy offensive-zone shift for the top line, but Pavel Cajan was able to deny a few chances before his net was pushed off its moorings. Even when the Monsters cleared their lines, the Rocket soon returned to crank the pressure back up, but the game remained without a goal.
Holding firm control of the opening minutes of the game, the Rocket still put themselves in a tough spot as Parker-Jones went off for interference, giving Cleveland the first power play of the afternoon. The penalty kill did well to keep a red-hot Monsters power play from opening the scoring, and a few minutes later the Rocket found themselves heading to a power play of their own.
The Rocket also found themselves stifled on the man advantage, but with the momentum still tipped in their favour they opened the scoring shortly afterward. Nicolas Beaudin collected a feed from Peter Abbandonato, then waited a second before firing a floating wrister on net. Joël Teasdale was battling in front of net, and the Rocket winger caught a piece of the puck to fool Cajan and open the scoring.
Joël Teasdale gets a piece of the Nicolas Beaudin shot and it's 1-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/ZKzOkdcTb1— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2022
The lead lasted just two minutes unfortunately as the Monsters caught the Rocket flat-footed in transition and Emil Bemstrom was able to feed Joona Luoto to tie the game up, while also causing a deluge of teddy bears from the crowd. With just over two minutes left, the officials sent the teams to the locker rooms.
The early break appeared to help the Rocket a large amount as they ended the opening period with a two-on-one chance at the horn. As the middle period began moments later, it was Mattias Norlinder jumping into the play and ripping a clean look on goal off the elbow of the crossbar and post.
Things got a bit spicy as Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Roman Ahcan got into a shoving match that saw both players sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. After both exited the box following their two-minute minors, Belzile tossed his gloves off for a fight with the much larger Josh Dunne in what ended up being a close win for the Monsters centre.
The spark was lit under the Rocket following the fight, and before long they had also taken the lead back. Beaudin dished the puck deep into the zone behind the Monsters’ net for Gabriel Bourque. The Laval forward waited patiently and put it on the stick of Teasdale at the side of goal. Teasdale buried his second goal of the day to put the Rocket up by a goal.
Laval is back in the lead thanks to Joël Teasdale's second goal of the game! pic.twitter.com/VsD05ZdrRp— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2022
Less than five minutes later, the Rocket attack added another goal to the lead thanks to a strong effort from Lucas Condotta. Justin Barron broke into the zone, firing a puck across the royal road to Brandon Gignac who put a hard shot on net. Condotta stuck with the play and swatted home the rebound to make it 3-1.
Justin Barron with a great feed to Brandon Gignac and Lucas Condotta finishes off the rebound.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2022
3-1 Laval! pic.twitter.com/iujafoltSt
Vrbetic did well to calm the waters as the period came to a close with some solid saves, and the Rocket entered the intermission with a two-goal lead to defend.
The final frame started poorly as William Trudeau high-sticked Trey Fix-Wolansky as he broke through the zone, sending Cleveland to a crucial power play just 90 seconds in. Vrbetic and his penalty-killers again put in a strong showing, killing off the minor and getting their own attack under way, which resulted in Corey Schueneman drawing a penalty.
Laval’s power play did what Cleveland’s could not, tallying a huge insurance goal thanks to some smart passing. A Harvey-Pinard pass led to a wild scramble in front of goal, and the puck was kicked back out to Belzile, who fed it across the zone to Beaudin. The Rocket blue-liner fired it into the empty cage as Cajan was down and out.
A chaotic scramble in front of Cleveland's net leaves Pavel Cajan down and out as Nicolas Beaudin tallies a power play goal. pic.twitter.com/cW5LfHje5Z— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2022
Even as the sides traded power-play opportunities in the final minutes, the Rocket were never in danger of allowing the Monsters to creep back into the game. At even strength they did a remarkable job of slowly chipping time of the clock with lengthy offensive-zone cycles. Laval was able to keep any threat of a comeback at bay and secure a tremendous rebound win after a disappointing Saturday effort.
Final Score: Laval 4, Cleveland 1
The club now heads off to Syracuse for a Wednesday night showdown with the Crunch. The recently demoted Rem Pitlick will also join the team there, offering a boost for the Rocket.