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Rocket vs. Americans recap & highlights: Anthony Richard plays hero in overtime

A three-goal deficit couldn’t slow down the Rocket offence on Friday night

Laval Rocket

After a wild back-and-forth, 12-goal affair on Wednesday night, the Laval Rocket and Rochester Americans were set to square off once more at Place Bell.

There was one major change to the Rocket lineup, with Nate Schnarr having been traded to Los Angeles for Frédéric Allard earlier in the day. With Allard not yet available, and down a forward, J.-F. Houle opted for an 11 forward, seven defenceman lineup with Mattias Norlinder serving as the seventh defender, while the fourth line was Riley McKay and Jan Mysak. In net was once again Cayden Primeau for the Rocket, and opposite of him was Michael Houser for the Americanss.

The sides continued their high-paced clashes from the previous meeting in the opening frame, with both Primeau and Houser having to remain sharp as chances came in from all angles. Laval had the game’s first power play chance, but plenty of missed passes caused it to expire without incident.

As the penalty came to an end, Riley McKay tripped up Houser, giving the Amerks a spare forward on the delayed call. That extra skater was all they needed for Jeremy Davies to circle the Laval zone and send a puck into the slot for Jiri Kulich to finish and make it 1-0.

Just as it looked like the Rocket were going to find a tying goal, the team went back to the power play. Again missed passes, poor communication, and static players derailed the momentum from playing at even strength. To compound things, one of those missed passes became a short-handed breakaway for Mason Jobst, and he made it a two-goal Rochester lead heading into the first intermission.

The feisty first period carried on into the second, with Xavier Simoneau being hit with a two-minute charging penalty, and then a five-minute major for fighting with the victim of his hit, Jobst. The Americans then capitalized where the Rocket hadn’t all night, as Jeremy Davies drove the net to tip a Matt Bartkowski shot past Primeau with the play at four-on-four to make it 3-0.

The situation remained tough for Laval, as they still had to kill off Simoneau’s minor. After killing the penalty off, and surviving a long shift in the defensive zone, the Rocket offence finally woke up. Peter Abbandonato and Anthony Richard each had prime chances, but their rebounds were denied by a sprawling Houser as the Rocket swarmed all over looking for a lifeline.

As the sides continued to trade penalties back and forth, Laval soon found itself back on the man advantage. This time they made it count as William Trudeau worked the puck to Lucas Condotta, and the forward pivoted toward the net, tossed a pass between his legs, and let Pierrick Dubé cash in at the far post to make it a 3-1 game.

Dubé nearly scored another thanks to Brandon Gignac springing him on a late breakaway, but Houser again came up big to keep it a two-goal deficit heading into the third.

Laval owned the start to period three, but again Houser was there to deny the Rocket. Off-setting calls to Linus Weissbach and Nicolas Beaudin moved the play to four-on-four, allowing a deeper Rochester forward group to wrest control back. Then, as tempers flared in a heated fight between Tyson Kozak and Riley McKay, the Rocket found their second wind.

The result was another goal, thanks again to Dubé. Condotta barrelled deep into the offensive zone, throwing a wraparound chance on net that pinballed into the slot. Dubé was all over the puck, rifling it past Houser to make it a one-goal contest.

Then, as Houser did his best to hold back the flood of Rocket shots, the dam cracked one more time in the final minutes of play. Again Dubé was in the middle of it all, driving to the net to create a rebound in front of goal, and it was Mitchell Stephens who buried it to make it 3-3.

Regulation wasn’t enough for these two teams, so three-on-three overtime was needed to find a winner.

Just 50 seconds into overtime, the speed of the Rocket drew a slashing call, giving them a four-on-three power play and a chance to pull off something incredible. In a nervy two minutes, it looked like the Rocket weren’t going to take advantage of the power play. In fact, they didn’t, but before Davies could rejoin the play, Anthony Richard powered a one-timer by Houser to complete the comeback.

Final Score: Laval 4, Rochester 3 (OT)

With this win in overtime, Laval now hasn’t lost at home in regulation since November 23, with Place Bell becoming a true fortress for opposing teams to enter. That record will be put to the test on Saturday as the Rocket welcome the Rockford IceHogs for a 7 PM puck drop.