Just 24 hours after a dominant 6-1 victory at Place Bell in Game 1, the Laval Rocket and Rochester Americans squared off again. Given the way the previous game ended, there were expectations of fights and other nonsense, but neither lineup reflected that. Mattias Norlinder was out for the Rocket after the cheapshot from Ben Holmstrom, and the Rocket went with a traditional 12/6 alignment. Lucas Condotta drew in as the 12th forward, while the six defencemen did not change, Cayden Primeau again got the start for the Rocket.
The two sides had a brief feeling-out period through the opening minutes, and then the Rocket kicked into a second gear while the Amerks held on for dear life. Tory Dello took a pass from Alex Belzile, forcing Aaron Dell to kick a huge rebound out, and right onto the stick of Brandon Gignac who potted the chance with ease.
With the first goal in their back pocket, Laval began to pile up chances. Aaron Dell found his footing, smothering any and all rebound chances in front of his goal.
With the Rocket already in firm control of the game, a Jack Quinn penalty put Laval on the game’s first power play. Using Jesse Ylönen as a decoy allowed the Rocket to generate far more looks on net than they normally get, and if not for some incredible pad work from Dell it likely would have become a multi-goal lead late in the first period. Rochester was able to weather the storm, but the control of the game was firmly in Laval’s hands as they held a 15-5 shot advantage entering the final minutes of the first period.
The pressure continued to mount as Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and J.-S. Dea ran a clinic deep in the Americans’ zone, but their efforts were snuffed out by the glove of Dell, and the Rocket settled for a one-goal lead as the period ended.
The second frame started with a much more physical edge, as Louie Belpedio blasted Jack Quinn in front of the benches, and in response Josh Teves buried Danick Martel after the whistle. The Rocket remained unfazed, and before long had found a second goal.
Alex Belzile held in a puck off a rush and created an instant odd-man chance deep in Rochester territory. Belzile passed off to a charging Cédric Paquette, who in turn centred a pass for Belpedio, who ripped it by Dell.
Alex Belzile feeds Cedric Paquette who tees up Louie Belpedio for the goal!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) May 24, 2022
2-0 Laval in the second period. pic.twitter.com/zVduQCios4
Xavier Ouellet put the Rocket in a tough spot as he was called for a trip, forcing the penalty-killers to keep the Americans from generating any momentum. They managed to keep a dangerous Rochester power play quiet, and Ouellet exited the box with the lead still at two goals.
A high-sticking call put the Rocket on a power play of their own shortly afterward, and despite some great individual efforts with the puck, the Amerks were able to keep the Rocket from adding to their lead.
Rochester’s strong penalty kill allowed the team to wrest control back in their favour, and they nearly made Laval pay for it. Primeau, who wasn’t overly busy to that point, made no less than four massive saves to keep Rochester off the board, and perhaps none was better than his lunging glove save as a Joël Teasdale penalty expired.
Cayden Primeau with absolute larceny on the penalty kill pic.twitter.com/FqrAiuGKG6— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) May 24, 2022
Thanks to Primeau’s incredible work, the Rocket entered the second intermission with a two-goal lead, but a tough 20 minutes still ahead of them.
The Americans had an early push as a slash on Dea went uncalled and the Rocket forward was unable to use one of his arms as the team desperately tried to clear the zone. However, once the puck was out, the speed of Gignac forced Dell into an error playing the puck, and the Rochester goalie nearly threw the puck into his own net.
Belpedio followed that up by pestering Brett Murray long enough that the Rochester forward retaliated, and both players found themselves in the box. Tory Dello of all players ended up being the hero during the two minutes of four-on-four as he manhandled Jack Quinn who was fighting for a loose puck in front of goal, somehow avoiding a penalty in the process.
Martel was not as lucky as he was called for a trip as Casey Fitzgerald tried to enter the Rocket zone. The Rocket penalty kill again came up strong as Gabriel Bourque blocked multiple shots, and then as the puck left the zone, Belzile suckered Quinn into taking a penalty. The brief Rocket power play was highlighted by a stunning blocker save by Primeau, and then Paquette both drawing and taking a penalty at the same time against Brandon Davidson.
The shenanigans didn’t affect the Rocket in the slightest as Peter Abbandonato drove deep into the offensive zone, firing a shot off Dell’s pads and into the slot. Lucas Condotta jumped on the loose puck, cut around the goalie, and roofed his first Rocket goal to make it a three-goal contest.
FIRST PRO GOAL LUCAS CONDOTTA!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) May 24, 2022
3-0 ROCKET! pic.twitter.com/phZlEmuo1S
A Sami Niku tripping call gave the Amerks the smallest of lifelines to end the game, and the Rocket fended off the six-on-four attack, but as Niku exited the box Arttu Ruotsalainen fired one through a screen to spoil Primeau’s shutout bid.
There were no further goals after that. Primeau slammed the door shut and the Rocket came away with a well-earned win, and 2-0 series lead.
Game 2 final score: Laval 3, Rochester 1
The Rocket can put the best-of-five series to bed on Wednesday night when they travel to Rochester for Game 3.