Laval vs. Belleville recap & highlights: Beleaguered Rocket fall in a valiant effort

The Rocket are extremely short-handed, but they still put on a strong showing against the Senators.

With a division title all wrapped up after a dominant showing on Wednesday evening, the Laval Rocket’s goal for the few remaining games this season was to give their young prospects a chance to get their feet wet in expanded roles. On Friday that was especially true as Ryan Poehling had been shut down for the year with a wrist injury, while Alex Belzile remained on the Montreal Canadiens’ taxi squad. With Yannick Veilleux also suspended, the Rocket were down to just 11 forwards for the showdown with Belleville.

Joël Bouchard was going to lean heavily on his few remaining veterans in Laurent Dauphin, Lukas Vejdemo, and Jordan Weal to help keep the young lineup rolling shift to shift. On defence it was Terrance Amorosa drawing in as the seventh defender, while Michael McNiven got the start.

Despite the Rocket being worn thin by injuries, they started the game pressuring the Senators physically. One of the heroes of last season’s feisty squad was Jake Lucchini, and he stepped up in a big way on the Rocket’s top line in the first period. He collected a breakout pass from Corey Schueneman in stride and took off into the offensive zone, cutting in front of Lassi Thomson to open a clear lane to the net. Lucchini curled the puck back and around the outstretched leg of Mads Sogaard before tucking it neatly into the net to put Laval up by a goal with about six-and-a-half minutes gone.

The lead didn’t last long as a miscommunication in the defensive zone allowed Cole Cassels to feed a puck to Colby Williams to tie the game under a minute later. Things settled in a bit from there, but tempers boiled over when Brandon Baddock laid out Cassels with a clean hit at centre ice. Curtis Douglas threw off his gloves to get at the uninterested Baddock, who was given two for interference and two for roughing.

Laval’s penalty kill kept the Senators at bay, even generating a few chances of their own while short-handed. However, a late hooking penalty on Cam Hillis put the Rocket in a tough spot, and this time the Senators made them pay for it. Egor Sokolov took a pass from Logan Brown and walked in from the blue line, rifling a shot by McNiven to get Belleville a lead heading into the first intermission.

The second frame started with a slight change: Josh Brook shifted up to play forward with Lucchini and Laurent Dauphin, something he did last year for Bouchard. It was an interesting start as he had a good scoring chance, but then also was called for tripping, giving the Sens another power-play opportunity.

Laval’s PK again came up big, with the best chance of the Senators advantage coming when Jordan Weal had a breakaway chance denied by Sogaard’s long pads to keep Belleville in the lead.

Then, things got testy as they often do between these two teams. Baddock and Joe LaBate threw off their gloves in a fight where Baddock hammered the Sens winger with relative ease. Behind them Lukas Vejdemo was tied up with Jack Dougherty, smiling at him while the Belleville defender tried to get his hands on the Rocket centre around the officials.

The Senators still found the next goal despite the flow of play heading in the Rocket’s favour. A quick change got the Senators a matchup against the Rocket’s fourth line, and Jean-Christophe Beaudin cashed in on a Douglas rebound to double Belleville’s lead with just over six minutes left to play.

The Rocket continued to chip away as best they could, but the deeper Senators team tacked on one more goal, with Logan Brown scoring his first of the year to put Laval in a deep hole headed into the third.

It looked like the Rocket had gotten on the board early, with Jake Lucchini throwing a shot on net, and Laurent Dauphin jamming it home. The officials however, said otherwise, claiming Dauphin had pushed Sogaard’s pad in with the puck, ruling it no goal.

Lucchini didn’t have to wait long to make up for the non-goal. Josh Brook fed him a leading pass into the slot and Lucchini dangled it around a Senators defender before snapping his second goal of the night by Mads Sogaard to put Laval back in the game.

Belleville then put the Rocket on their first power play of the night, giving Laval a crucial chance to draw even closer on the scoreboard. With many of their top players missing, the man advantage was missing its usual punch, and the Rocket were not able to convert.

After another strong penalty kill, the Rocket found a goal from another unlikely source to draw within a goal late in the third period. Laurent Dauphin sped in thanks to an Otto Leskinen stretch pass. Dauphin held up below the goal line, spun and fired a pass into the slot that Terrance Amorosa fired past Sogaard to bring Laval within a goal of the Senators with just under six minutes to play.

It looked like Laval had again scored, with Lucchini just poking it over the line. The officials disagreed, saying that it didn’t cross over the line, despite multiple replays showing quite the opposite.

Laval had a late chance on a six-on-four power play thanks to a Logan Brown penalty, but despite ringing plenty of chances around the net, they couldn’t find the tying goal and fell for the second straight game this week.

Final Score: Belleville 4, Laval 3

The club has time to rest and recuperate this weekend, and won’t play until next Tuesday when they end the season with a five-game series against the Toronto Marlies, with the first two games happening in Toronto.

Three Stars

  1. Jake Lucchini (2G)
  2. Jean-Christophe Beaudin (1G)
  3. Logan Brown (1G, 1A)

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