LAVAL, QC – The Laval Rocket faced off against the Providence Bruins in an empty Place Bell Friday night. They were set to travel to Syracuse to take on the Crunch, but the American Hockey League announced on Saturday that the game scheduled that day was postponed.
The provincial government tightened COVID-19 mitigation measures, which extended to the fans expected to pack into the stands in Laval. Playing in a familiarly quiet and empty barn — eerily reminiscent of last season – the Rocket took to the ice against the Bruins in what promised to be an action-packed thriller from the get-go.
It was high-octane and full steam ahead from the very first second. The Bruins took a two-goal lead in the first five minutes with goals by Alexis D’Aoust and Cameron Hughes that beat goaltender Michael McNiven. The pace didn’t let up from there. As the period went on, both teams pushed each other back and forth between the offensive and defensive zones, laying the body and clogging lanes with the intensity the hockey world has come to expect from matches between the parent clubs of these two teams. Inside the last five minutes, Gabriel Bourque slipped one past Troy Grosenick to put the Rocket on the board before the intermission and send his team down the tunnel still fully in the game.
The second half of the second period was a scoring frenzy, albeit one-sided. After nearly 10 minutes of the same high-intensity hockey as the first period, the Rocket opened the floodgates and scored four unanswered goals to tie the game, take the lead for the first time, and then extend the lead… twice. Louie Belpedio, Lukas Vejdemo, and Alex Belzile scored on power plays, while Cameron Hillis notched his goal at even strength. The Bruins were kept off the scoresheet for the second period despite their notable efforts to close the growing gap between them and their hosts. The Rocket held a three-goal lead heading down the tunnel for the second intermission and were determined to keep the visitors at bay when the puck dropped for the third.
The Rocket struck early in the final frame with a tally from Kevin Roy in the opening minute-and-a-half. The Bruins kept pushing and were rewarded with an early power play of their own. Jack Ahcan took the opportunity to add another goal to his side’s tally to cut the deficit back to three goals. After the two goals in the first five or so minutes, the goalies at both ends of the ice buckled down and made it impossible for their opponents to get anything past them. Even though the fight continued to rage on both sides, the score remained the same until the final buzzer sounded, and the Rocket walked away with a decisive victory.
Ça va faire du bien à nos stats en avantage numérique 😏
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) December 18, 2021
Saturday was supposed to be the second half of the weekend workload for the Rocket, but the AHL announced that their game against the Syracuse Crunch was postponed per the league’s COVID-19 protocol. The Crunch also had their recent game against the Belleville Senators postponed due to the league’s policy on COVID-19. As of the writing of this article, there has been no update on the rescheduling of the postponed game or the status of the game against the Crunch that is scheduled for Wednesday, December 29 at Place Bell.
Here’s the quick breakdown of some notable stats from the Laval Rocket:
- Record: 12-10-2-0 (3rd in the North Division, 13th in the league)
- Points leader: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (14)
- Goals leader: Jean-Sébastien Dea (8)
- Goaltending leader: Cayden Primeau (2.77 GAA, 0.912 SV%)
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