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Rocket vs. Americans recap & highlights: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s big night sparks Laval

The feisty winger notched four points in a critical win over a division rival.

Laval Rocket

The Laval Rocket were finally back at home after a long trip out west, one that resulted in just one win in four games. Manitoba and Abbotsford presented tough challenges, but the Rocket got a boost upon returning home. Cédric Paquette was cleared to play, and resumed his role on the top line, while several others were expected to return by the weekend for J.-F. Houle’s team.

The Rocket’s opponent on Wednesday night was a fellow North Division rival, the Rochester Americans. Rochester sat fifth in the division while Laval held on to its second-place spot by a thread. With this game, and every remaining game, against divisional foes, the Rocket needed a quick bounceback after their struggles out west.

Right out of the gate, the Rocket gained the offensive zone then followed that up by being whistled for a high-stick and heading to the game’s first penalty kill. The Americans’ man advantage units were locked in on the Rocket’s net, but Cayden Primeau was extremely sharp as he denied repeated chances from J.J. Peterka and then Jack Quinn on the second wave of the advantage.

The penalty-killers barely had a moment to breathe before their services were required again as Louie Belpedio was sent off of a trip. Again Primeau was dialed in, and the Rocket were able to keep the Americans from setting up their attack as they killed off Belpedio’s minor penalty.

The penalty parade continued its march forward, only this time it was the Amerks heading to the box as Danick Martel was caught with a high stick. The Laval power play kept the puck on their sticks quite well, easily circling the outside of the attacking areas. However, their attempts to get passes or shots into dangerous areas were denied by Rochester sticks, resulting in a power play with no actual shots on net.

A strong first period from Rochester finally yielded a goal as they caught the Rocket defence slightly unaware, resulting in an odd-man rush. Sean Malone was able to get free going to the net, and while it looked like Primeau made the save and Lukas Vejdemo cleaned up the loose puck, a replay showed the puck had just crossed the line.

The Rocket were able to end the period on a strong note as Josh Teves was called for delay of game, putting Laval on their second power play of the night. This time the advantage clicked. A blocked pass from J.-S. Dea found its way to Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, who slipped it to Paquette. The veteran lifted a backhander by Aaron Dell to tie the game up with just over a minute left.

The Rocket came out of the chute strong to start the second period, testing Dell repeatedly and refusing to let go of the puck inside the offensive zone. While they were initially stymied by the Rochester goalie, they found a breakthrough thanks to a timely bounce. Gabriel Bourque was able to push a puck from behind the net over to Joël Teasdale, who attempted to fire it to Nate Schnarr in front. The pass never reached Schnarr as it bounced off a skate and slowly trickled by Dell to make it a 2-1 game.

Laval’s second goal seemed to shake the Americans awake as they began to press deep into the Rocket zone, but Primeau, and a lot of timely stick pokes, kept the lead at one goal. As the period was coming to an end, the Rocket got a bit of a break as Nate Schnarr’s stick hit Joël Teasdale in the face, drawing a double minor despite it being an accident between two teammates.

Laval nearly gave the lead back in the final seconds as a mix-up between a defenceman and the referee trying to get out of his way behind the net put the puck on Michael Scarfo’s stick, but the Rochester forward fired high, allowing the Rocket to enter the third still holding their one-goal lead.

The man advantage was firing on all cylinders to start the third period, and cashed in early to grow the tenuous Laval lead. Xavier Ouellet passed off to Harvey-Pinard, who in turn fired a pass across the zone to Dea. The veteran forward returned the puck right back to Harvey-Pinard, who buried it to make it a 3-1 game.

Laval’s penalty kill was soon back in action after their goal as Paquette was called for boarding. They passed the test again as the Americans’ big guns were kept quiet.

While the Rocket weren’t able to convert on their next power play, they still found a way to increase their lead shortly after. Lukas Vejdemo carried the puck in deep into the offensive zone, and as he hit the goal line he dished it back to the net-front area. It bounced right to Teasdale, who took a big swipe at the puck, just enough to squeak through Dell to make it a 4-1 game.

The Amerks drew one goal back as Michael Mersch fired one from range that fooled Primeau to make it a two-goal game once again. That lead soon became three again as the Rocket’s top line went back to work. Martel picked off a clearing feed, then fired a shot on net. The rebound kicked out to Harvey-Pinard, who slid it across for Dea to bury, his 20th goal of the year.

Dell eventually made his way to the bench in favour of an extra attacker, however the Rocket gave his team nothing, and Harvey-Pinard passed up a chance at an empty-net goal to allow J.-C. Beaudin to bury his third goal of the year to put the game out of reach.

Final Score: Laval 6, Rochester 2

Laval is off until Friday night when they welcome the Americans back to Place Bell for a 7:00 PM puck drop.