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Rocket vs. Wolf Pack recap & highlights: Joël Teasdale nets hat trick in 7-4 win

A wild night at Place Bell helped the Rocket snap their losing skid in style.

Club de Hockey Canadien

After a very long week off following a disappointing trip to Pennsylvania, the Laval Rocket were back in the friendly confines of Place Bell. Those losses had dropped them to third in the AHL’s North Division just behind the Toronto Marlies. Also in that time they lost Louie Belpedio to injury, but did get Tory Dello back from his ailment.

The team also received a boost in the form of Cayden Primeau being returned to the club with Jake Allen now healthy. Coming along with him were Jesse Ylönen and also Cedric Paquette, who had cleared waivers earlier in the week, with the NHL veteran slotting into the second-line centre spot against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The opening two minutes were a back-and-forth affair, with the visitors getting a few chances, and then the Rocket storming right back down the ice. Laval’s pressure was able to draw a tripping call and send them to an early power-play opportunity. A good keep by Ylönen kept the power play flowing in the offensive zone and eventually the puck bumped out to Xavier Ouellet at the point. Ouellet fed a pass across the zone to J.-S. Dea, and the Rocket’s leading goal-scorer added another when his shot was deflected by Keith Kinkaid.

The lead lasted about four minutes as a lengthy shift by the Wolf Pack drew a call as well, but before the Rocket could touch the puck and get their penalty kill on the ice, the loose puck popped out to Zac Jones and the defender snapped one behind Primeau.

The high-event period continued from there, with the Rocket using their team speed to stretch out the Hartford defence on odd-man rushes. Finally they found a breakthrough with Brandon Gignac taking a lead pass from Gabriel Bourque to start a two-on-one rush. Gignac loaded up a shot and Kinkaid booted the rebound right to Joël Teasdale, who roofed the backhand to make it a 2-1 game.

The Rocket then immediately took a penalty following their goal, and on the ensuing penalty kill Ty Ronning snapped one over Primeau’s shoulder to continue an insane opening 10 minutes.

The tie lasted 56 total seconds as the Rocket again plowed down the ice in search of a goal. Darien Kielb activated from the blue line, all the way down to the goal line where he flicked a pass to the front of the crease. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was in the right place to smack a backhand chance through Kinkaid’s five-hole to make it a 3-2 Laval lead and chase Kinkaid from the game.

The action still didn’t stop there. Another Rocket penalty put the Wolf Pack back on the power play. It took Hartford all of eight seconds for Anthony Greco to beat Primeau and again tie the game up.

Mercifully for the netminders, that was it for goals in the period, but not without either side trying their best, and the teams headed into the break each having notched three goals.

The incredible offensive showing didn’t slow down to start the second period either, as the Rocket jumped back into the lead with barely two minutes played. Ouellet fired a shot on net that Adam Huska kicked out. The rebound fell right to Harvey-Pinard, who slid a pass across the crease for a wide-open Kevin Roy to bury, making it a 4-3 game.

The biggest change from the first period to the second was that following Laval’s goal, they didn’t instantly give it right back. In fact, the Rocket began to dominate the game as they kept Hartford pinned deep in its zone. Eventually the constant pressure broke down the Wolf Pack defence, and Laval added to their lead.

Brandon Gignac forced the puck along the backboards to Bourque, and the veteran forward fired it into the slot for Teasdale, who beat Huska with the shot to make it 5-3 with just over 11 minutes left to play in the second.

Hartford took the fifth goal against as a wake-up call, and began their own counter-attack. Primeau took no chances, freezing every shot that came his way and not giving Hartford any opportunity to pick up a rebound.

The Rocket added another goal to make it a three-goal lead late in the period with Sami Niku rimming a shot in behind the net to start. Teasdale was there to collect the pass, and then spin and fire it across the net to Gignac, who poked it in.

Tempers flared as the period came to an end after a number of questionable hits from both teams, and as the teams went to the room, both Ronning and Paquette were hit with roughing minors for their actions.

After a wild 40 minutes, the opening minutes of the third were relatively tame by comparison as the Wolf Pack tried to claw out of their three-goal deficit. The Rocket ere unfazed and continued to press Hartford time and time again while looking for an opening.

Laval found that opening once more as the Rocket drew a delayed call and had Hartford trapped in their own zone. Niku took advantage of an opponent having lost his stick as he cut toward the net, then pulled up and put a pass into the slot which Teasdale hammered home for his third goal of the night.

With a four-goal lead in hand, the Rocket’s main goal was simply to get through the rest of the game. After a strong penalty kill, the Rocket did finally concede another goal, with Tanner Fritz walking into the high slot and snapping a shot through Primeau’s five-hole.

The Rocket drew a late power play and that was all the team needed to coast its way over the finish line with a comfortable victory.

Final Score: Laval 7, Hartford 4

It’s a big win for a Rocket team that needed to snap out of its funk, and more impressive to do so after a very shaky first period. There isn’t long for the Rocket to rest as they’ll welcome the Hershey Bears on Saturday at 3:00 PM for their next game.