Coming off one of the team’s most thrilling wins of the year on Friday night, the Laval Rocket were right back in the thick of things on Saturday against the Rockford IceHogs. Laval was sure to have some tired legs following their comeback against Rochester the previous night, but were looking to continue their winning ways.
The lineup featured no changes, as expected after a strong offensive showing, and again Cayden Primeau got the nod as the starter.
There was an early push from the Rocket to try to grab an early lead, and then it was the IceHogs who took control of the game. The pressure led to Rockford being the ones to open the scoring when Andy Welinski fired a chest-high shot from the point and the newly acquired Pavel Gogolev deflected it by Primeau with nine minutes played.
The opening goal put a bit of giddy-up into the Rocket much like the previous night. From a 2-4 shot count, the Rocket climbed ahead 13-4, testing Arvid Soderblom from all angles, but lacking the finishing touch.
Despite the momentum, the Rocket soon found themselves killing the game’s first penalty, but the penalty-killers allowed just two shots to keep the deficit at one goal.
Laval kept its foot down to start the second period, and for their efforts they drew a pair of power plays as well. The Rocket threw everything they had toward the Rockford net, but again Soderblom continued to hold the line and frustrate the attack.
That was a trend that continued throughout the period as the two sides continued to trade power-play chances, but the Rocket were overwhelming the IceHogs at every turn. A late power play to end the period saw the Rocket close to breaking the ice in tight with some strong play from Lucas Condotta, but again they went into the intermission still trailing by one goal.
Needing a goal to start the third, the Rocket immediately went to the penalty kill as Madison Bowey was called for cross-checking. Primeau stood tall as the Rocket penalty kill survived, and then they went on the power play themselves. A struggle with the man advantage continued to haunt Laval as they weren’t able to trouble Soderblom with anything threatening.
The energy in the Rocket players’ legs was clearly fading as the third wore on, and with that comes penalties as Tory Dello was sent to the box for hooking. The IceHogs were gaining steam, and it was Primeau doing all he could to hold them back and keep it a one-goal game.
Laval was given a huge lifeline in the final four minutes as Rockford were called for interference, presenting the Rocket with a sixth power-play chance on the night. With 30 seconds gone in the advantage, J.-F. Houle opted to pull Primeau, giving Laval a two-man edge to try to score a tying goal.
The power play didn’t yield anything once again, but there was a bit of magic still left for the Rocket. With 45 seconds to play, Nicolas Beaudin fired a shot on net that bounced off Joël Teasdale and right to Mitchell Stephens, who buried the pcuk to finally get the Rocket on the board.
For the second night in a row, it's Mitchell Stephens with the extra attacker goal for the Rocket to tie the game! pic.twitter.com/OXzDZn9uck— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 5, 2023
The goal was enough to get at least a point for Laval, and keep their regulation streak at Place Bell intact as the game moved to overtime.
Overtime was fast, furious, and not great for cardiac health, but the Rocket drew a tripping call after Primeau stopped a two-on-one chance. Before they headed to the power play, Brandon Gignac was denied on a breakaway of his own.
The power play wasn’t able to repeat the previous night’s magic however, and Soderblom continued to be a massive thorn in the Rocket’s side as he pushed the game to a shootout to find a winner.
The shootout went 11 rounds, with Anthony Richard and Cam Hillis scoring in round two, and then 17 consecutive shooters were denied before former Rocket Morgan Adams-Moisan netted the winner after Corey Schueneman was denied in his attempt.
Final Score: Rockford 2, Laval 1 (SO)
Rockford’s shootout-winner snaps the Rocket’s winning streak, but adds to a strong week for Laval, which keeps its grip on the AHL North Division’s final playoff spot. Up next for Laval is a match with the Belleville Senators on Wednesday night at Place Bell.