In order to make the playoffs, the Laval Rocket will have to beat the teams ahead of them in the North Division, and they did just that with a 7-5 win over the Rochester Americans at Place Bell on Wednesday night.
The seven goals came from seven different scorers, all at even strength, with a balanced offence leading the way.
The Rocket got off to a great start with two goals in just over a minute. Pierrick Dubé opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the year. Mattias Norlinder entered the zone, fired a shot towards the net, and it bounced around until Dubé was able to beat Malcolm Subban.
Pierrick Dubé ouvre la marque contre les Amerks!— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
Dubé opens the scoring against Rochester! #GoRocket https://t.co/d6OHeJRe0F pic.twitter.com/4D9dt0IBJ1
Just 1:04 later, Peter Abbandonato doubled the Rocket lead with a long shot off of a rebound. It was his 11th goal of the season.
PETER!!!#GoRocket https://t.co/aoCWuZdgXm pic.twitter.com/j4fkl5RaPm— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
The Americans got on the board in the final minute of the period when Brandon Biro scored his first of three goals on the night. It seemed for a moment that the goal was the turning point of the game.
Down 2-1 entering the second period, the Americans scored three minutes into the frame to tie it with a goal from Tyson Kozak, and just 34 seconds later Biro scored his second of the game to turn the early 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 Rochester lead.
Jean-François Houle called time out after the second Biro goal to calm his team down, and it seemed to work. The team started playing better, and they scored three quick goals of their own to completely turn the game around — again.
On a delayed penalty, Lucas Condotta passed the puck in front to Mitchell Stephens who potted his 10th goal of the season past Subban to tie the game 3-3.
Son dixième de la saison!— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
His 10th of the season! #GoRocket https://t.co/QpZ7EU3d4g pic.twitter.com/B7iFkmn0Je
Just under two minutes later, the Rocket took the lead for good when Brandon Gignac took a great pass by Anthony Richard after a big puck retrieval and fired the shot from the slot. It was Gignac’s 11th goal of the year.
Brandon Gignac nous redonne les devants!— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
And we take the lead back! #GoRocket https://t.co/Nl9vfsNn9U pic.twitter.com/otcE8x8WpE
The Rocket weren’t done quite yet. Gabriel Bourque scored his 11th goal of the season, and the team’s third goal in 4:02. Bourque took the puck, and walked in and fired a wrist shot past Subban.
Snipe #GoRocket https://t.co/klEk3tsmom pic.twitter.com/b34rDLUdHz— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
Early in the third period, Biro scored on the power play to complete his hat trick and make the score 5-4, but that was as close as Rochester came. Biro’s third goal was the only one of the 12 in the game that wasn’t at even strength.
William Trudeau and Riley McKay scored 1:44 apart in the first half of the final period to make it 7-4 and shut the door on the Americans. McKay’s goal was his third point of the night as he had a tremendous performance from the fourth line.
McKay— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
Mysak#GoRocket https://t.co/CVb3jPBbjJ pic.twitter.com/6tVz2mEGJi
Mason Jobst scored late in the game to make it 7-5, and even with Subban pulled for over three minutes, Rochester wasn’t able to get any additional scoring on Cayden Primeau. Primeau made 29 saves in the win.
The two teams play again on Friday night, and the Rocket close out the week by hosting the Rockford Icehogs on Saturday night.
Notre alignement— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) March 2, 2023
Our lineup#GoRocket pic.twitter.com/lVx9FyXqyR
Corey Schueneman returned to the lineup for the Rocket after being sent down. Tory Dello was sick and missed the game. Kevin Poulin was out with an upper-body injury so Philippe Desrosiers was recalled from the Trois-Rivières Lions and backed up Primeau.
In addition to McKay’s three-point night, Jan Mysak also had two assists in the win as did Anthony Richard.
The Rocket’s win closes the gap to the Americans, who are only three points ahead but have two games in hand. Utica and Syracuse are six points clear of the Rocket, and still within possible striking distance.
With the Cleveland Monsters losing again on Wednesday, Laval got a little bit of breathing room for the fifth and final playoff spot.