clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Laval @ Syracuse recap & highlights: Decimated Rocket can’t complete the comeback

Injuries and COVID caught up with the Rocket as they dropped a tough game in Syracuse.

Club de Hockey Canadien

When it finally looked like the Laval Rocket were getting back on track in terms of team health, another outbreak of COVID-19 hammered the squad. First it forced them to postpone their Wednesday game in Belleville against the Senators, and it nearly cancelled Friday’s trip to Syracuse for a match with the Crunch. In spite of seven players testing positive and weather in New York making travel difficult, the Rocket took off at noon and made it to central New York for their game.

Kevin Poulin, Josh Brook, Kevin Roy, Gabriel Bourque, Justin Ducharme, and Terrance Amorosa all missed out due to positive tests. In addition, injuries to Alex Belzile, Lukas Vejdemo, Brandon Gignac, Gianni Fairbrother, and J.-C. Beaudin left Laval very short-handed for the contest.

Returning for this game was Cayden Primeau in the starter’s net, with Michael McNiven serving as his backup. Devante Smith-Pelly, Shawn St. Amant, and Cedric Desruisseaux drew in as well.

The opening minutes of the game were abnormally quiet between the divisional rivals, with the Rocket taking an early shot advantage. However, it was the Crunch who found the back of the net first thanks to a bad turnover. Tobie Paquette-Bisson attempted a diagonal pass through the neutral zone which was intercepted by Gabriel Fortier. The Crunch forward in turn fed a pass to Remi Elie in the slot, and Elle rifled it by Primeau for an early Syracuse lead.

Things didn’t get much better as a scramble around the net led to Charles Hudon attempting a centring pass but banking it in to double the Syracuse lead.

It looked like Laval had gotten themselves on the board as Jesse Ylönen outwaited Hugo Alnefelt, but the Finn’s shot clanged off the iron, and the follow-up shot never got close to the net.

Just as it looked like the Rocket were recovering from the early Crunch attack, a quick Syracuse counter turned into Gabriel Dumont firing his 19th goal of the year behind Primeau, making it a 3-0 game in the first period.

Period two started much better for Laval as the Rocket entrenched themselves in the offensive zone almost immediately, but before they could threaten Alnefelt with anything dangerous, Peter Abbandonato was called for a high stick and the team went to the penalty kil. They worked hard to keep the Crunch from furthering their lead, and Abbandonato exited the box with no further damage done on the scoreboard.

After the Crunch missed out on making it a 4-0 game thanks to Cole Koepke’s stick exploding, the Rocket finally found the back of the net. Sami Niku worked up the left wall and fired a shot on goal that St. Amant whacked away at, just squeaking it by Alnefelt to cut into the Syracuse lead.

An Andrej Sustr interference penalty presented Laval with a chance to regain more ground, however a strong penalty-kill effort from the Crunch kept the Rocket from comfortably setting up and the deficit remained at two as the period passed the halfway point.

The Rocket’s stubbornness paid off despite the large shot deficit as the Crunch took three penalties in the span of two minutes, giving Laval a massive five-on-three chance to end the second period. The Rocket took advantage of the extra space as Louie Belpedio teed up Ylönen for a wicked shot from the left circle to make it a one-goal lead as the second period ended.

Laval had another chance to start the third period with an abbreviated two-man advantage thanks to Ryan Jones and Gabriel Dumont taking back-to-back penalties. This time, the Rocket power play struggled to get itself going and the Crunch were able to escape their penalty issues unscathed.

Neither side did much to wrestle control of the game in their favour as the third period wore on, but a late power play tilted it against Laval with just over four minutes left to play. With Rafaël Harvey-Pinard taking a seat for hooking, the Crunch finally cashed in as Koepke converted Darren Raddysh’s feed to make it a 4-2 game.

After gaining an offensive zone faceoff, the Rocket opted to pull Primeau for an extra attacker. Laval threw chances at Alnefelt, but the Crunch goalie held his lines and eventually Raddysh was able to send a long shot into the empty net to seal the game for Syracuse.

Final Score: Syracuse 5, Laval 2

It wa a tough pill to swallow for the Rocket who held on as best they could with a depleted lineup and long day of travel. Their weekend doesn’t get much easier from here as they have Saturday off and then head down I-90 to Rochester for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Americans.