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Rocket vs. Senators recap & highlights: An ugly effort threatens Laval’s playoff hopes

Laval was out of the game from the start in a lopsided loss to Belleville.

After losing in an 11 round shootout over the weekend, the Laval Rocket looked to get back on track against the Belleville Senators on home ice. The team received a boost with Frédéric Allard joining the team and Danick Martel suiting up for his first game in over three months.

Between the pipes it was Cayden Primeau, while both Madison Bowey and Tory Dello were made scratches for the night.

The start was not a strong one for the Rocket as the officials missed a high stick that sent Xavier Simoneau to the ice just seconds into the game. In the same series, the Senators quickly countered, and Ridly Greig snapped a hard shot by Primeau just over a minute into the game.

The Senators kept piling the pressure on the Rocket following the opening goal, with Primeau struggling to keep pace but managing to deny the Sens a second goal. Perhaps luckily for the Rocket, they also drew the game’s first penalty as Angus Crookshank went to the box for high-sticking. The man advantage generated zero shots on net, and when the Senators returned to even strength, the Rocket immediately took a penalty of their own.

A strong penalty kill seemed to bring some life back into their legs as they began to counter the Senators with speed, forcing Dylan Ferguson to fend off multiple quick-strike chances in the offensive zone. Laval brought their own momentum to a temporary halt as Lucas Condotta sent the team back to the penalty kill, and was free for four seconds before he went right back into the box as he was called for interference.

The Rocket looked like they were going to escape the kill unscathed, until the final seconds when Lassi Thomson stepped in and wired one past Primeau to make it a two-goal game. Then, as they often do in these games, tempers boiled over with Mitchell Heard sucker-punching Riley McKay and earning a double minor for roughing, and McKay a roughing penalty of his own. The Rocket advantage failed to take control of the game and entered the intermission trailing by a pair of goals.

After a rough first period, some might have expected the Rocket to start the middle period in better fashion. Those people would be wrong, as Gabriel Bourque went to the box early on and Lassi Thomson snapped in a power-play goal just seven seconds into the Senators’ advantage.

Laval responded by taking another penalty a few minutes later and putting the Senators on their fifth power play of the night. The Senators tacked on a third power-play goal and seemingly put the game on ice with well over half the game left to play.

For reasons that were unclear, the Senators removed Dylan Ferguson from the game in favour of Luke Richardson. The former USports goalie had to stare down back-to-back Rocket power plays, which he managed to do as Laval struggled to do much of anything.

Tempers again flared in a big way as the period neared its end, as Olivier Galipeau blasted Crookshank with a hit along the boards. Egor Sokolov threw off his gloves before taking on Galipeau, while Jacob Larsson squared off with Nicolas Beaudin. At the end of it all, Laval had a two-minute power play, with Sokolov somehow avoiding a fighting major.

As Laval failed to do any damage on their power play to start the third period, their impressive run of form at home was on life support. Even another fight between Riley McKay and Heard wasn’t enough to get the team re-energized. Before long, Laval found themselves back on the penalty kill with Anthony Richard taking a seat for high-sticking. The Senators cancelled their own power play out with Greig taking a seat for hooking deep in the offensive zone.

With Primeau on the bench for a two-man advantage the Rocket finally found a goal against Richardson. Peter Abbandonato had his first chance blocked, then threw a pass back for William Trudeau, and the Rocket defenceman powered it home for a small measure of consolation.

Both Pierrick Dubé and Simoneau found themselves trying to get their hands on Crookshank, eventually resulting in a two-man advantage for the Senators. Again, Belleville’s power play made their opportunity count as they made it a 5-1 contest with seven-and-a-half minutes left to play.

The Rocket never really threatened again, and may be down a regular forward after McKay was ejected for fighting in the final two minutes of the game.

Final Score: Belleville 5, Laval 1

Now ahead of the Rocket is a dangerous contest in Central New York as it heads into Syracuse for a meeting with the Crunch. Laval is currently clinging to the final playoff spot in the AHL North Division, just one point ahead of Cleveland.