The Laval Rocket continued to battle through their roster being in constant flux as they came back from their break. Missing now were Justin Barron who was called up to the NHL, and Nicolas Beaudin who was with Team Canada at the Spengler Cup.
With a makeshift fourth line and third pairing of entirely ECHL call-ups, the Rocket looked to secure a win over a division rival. Kevin Poulin got the nod in net, and opposite of him was Maxime Lagace for the Syracuse Crunch.
It was a frantic start for both sides with the Crunch getting a few looks that grazed the outside of the post that the Rocket weathered quite well. After denying the early push, Laval turned on the pressure to test Lagace, who made a number of lunging saves to deny the Rocket the opening goal.
Laval’s attack though wasn’t going to be denied, and Alex Belzile helped lead the counter attack for the opening goal. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard intercepted a pass through the slot, allowing him to spring an odd-man rush going the other way. Belzile got the initial shot by Lagace, but as it fluttered just short of the goal line, Rem Pitlick swooped in to poke it home and put the Rocket in the lead just over five minutes into the game.
Rem Pitlick bats in the Alex Belzile rebound chance and it's 1-0 Laval! pic.twitter.com/FceuEXOKnh— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
The Crunch fired right back, keeping Laval hemmed deep in its own zone for several minutes while Poulin was peppered with repeated attempts, but the veteran netminder refused to budge.
Just as the Crunch took the edge in shots on goal, the Rocket got a moment of individual brilliance to double their lead. Peter Abbandonato sped out of the zone and used his hands to beat Cole Koepke to the net. While he wasn’t able to get the shot off, Abbandonato slid the puck to the slot while falling, where Joël Teasdale jumped all over it to score a second goal for the Rocket.
Peter Abbandonato with the moves and Joël Teasdale makes it 2-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/k6PhtX85kb— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
Laval didn’t need long to add to their advantage either as they continued to stifle the Syracuse attack and counter without issue. Teasdale was again in the spotlight as he spun around an incoming check before firing a shot on net. Gabriel Bourque was there to bump the rebound out to Corey Schueneman, who waited a moment before firing his fourth of the year by Lagace and making it 3-0.
Joël Teasdale breaks out the spin move, then Gabriel Bourque tees up Corey Schueneman to make it 3-0 in Laval! pic.twitter.com/XPhPOeSgeO— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
The second period continued the strong Rocket trends from the first as Laval’s penalty-killers fought off the Crunch man advantage without much of an issue.
After killing off the penalty, the Laval attack went right back down the ice and potted another goal to really put the pressure on Syracuse. Abbandonato again used his speed off the wing and drove hard to the slot to fire off a shot. He created a rebound and this time it was defenceman Olivier Galipeau sneaking into the slot to bury the rebound to make it 4-0.
Olivier Galipeau jumps into the play and it's now 4-0 in Laval! pic.twitter.com/T1yEjxy9fX— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
The Crunch drew one back in relatively short order as Declain Carlile beat Bourque around the edge to circle the Rocket net. He found Alex Barre-Boulet waiting just inside the faceoff circle, and Barre-Boulet had no issue beating Kevin Poulin with a far corner shot to make it 4-1.
The Crunch took the little bit of life the Rocket gave them and came roaring back with a vengeance, including a strong power play the forced Poulin to make a handful of saves, including a sprawling glove save to stop the puck from crossing the line.
My word what a glove save by Kevin Poulin! pic.twitter.com/LWTU8si30Z— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
Even as the Rocket were holding on to weather the Syracuse storm, they still found another goal, and it was a big milestone for one of the Habs’ young prospects. William Trudeau jumped in deep on the forecheck, bouncing off Sean Day and into space in front of the Crunch net. Pierrick Dubé fed him a pass and Trudeau buried his first professional goal to make it a 5-1 game late in the second period.
FIRST PRO GOAL FOR WILLIAM TRUDEAU!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
5-1 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/NNdT1pNL4b
With a four-goal cushion, the Rocket entered the third period with their eyes set on finishing a full 60-minute effort with a big win.
Just over a minute into the third period, the Rocket all but put a lid on the game as Pitlick grabbed the puck and teed up Belzile for a one-timer that made it a five-goal Rocket lead.
Just 67 seconds into the period and Alex Belzile makes it 6-1 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/BO0lpFSOoq— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 29, 2022
With the Rocket sitting back to defend their lead as the period wore on, they found themselves back on the penalty kill, and Barre-Boulet gave the Crunch a bit of life as he buried his second of the night.
Just 24 seconds after the tally, Philippe Myers took advantage of the Rocket’s seemingly lax approach and quickly made it a 6-3 game when Gabriel Fortier got a tip on his shot, and added plenty of intrigue with eight minutes left to play.
There was no collapse from the Rocket beyond that as Poulin slammed the door shut, and even got his gloves off to help break up a scrum that was kicked off by Gabriel Dumont going after Belzile.
Once everything was sorted out, the Rocket saw out the game on the power play and secured a big win to start their post-holiday season.
Final Score: Laval 6, Syracuse 3
The Rocket are off for a day, but will welcome the Crunch again on Friday night.