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Rocket Burn Heat in Weekend Back-To-Back

Rocket Burn Heat in Weekend Back-To-Back

CALGARY, AB – The Laval Rocket and Stockton Heat met up Saturday and Sunday for a weekend showdown at the Scotiabank Saddledome. While the results for both halves of the back-to-back set were the same, the games themselves were anything but identical. 

SATURDAY 

The Rocket came into Saturday’s game following an overtime win on Thursday.  

FIRST PERIOD  

The puck dropped on game two of a four-game series between the Heat and the Rocket, and just under a minute-and-a-half into the tilt, the home team gave the visitors their first shot at the power play. Glenn Gawdin took a minor for cross-checking and, although the Rocket failed to capitalize on the man advantage, gave the opposing squad the early momentum. The Heat fought back against the Rocket, and the two squads matched both pace and physicality. Nearing the period’s halfway point, Brandon Baddock gave the Heat their first crack at the man advantage on a call for goaltender interference. Stockton was also unable to find the back of the net a man up.  

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard broke the scoreless tie early in the second half of the period with an unassisted goal. Less than a minute later, Heat captain Byron Froese – assisted by Alexander Yelesin and Eetu Tuulola – evened the score back up. Baddock took up a brief residence in the penalty box on a hooking minor to close out the period with the game still tied at one-all.  

The Heat couldn’t pull ahead of the Rocket before the period came to an end, and both teams headed back to their locker rooms with the score tied.  

SECOND PERIOD 

The Heat started the middle stanza with a handful of seconds remaining on the power play. The Rocket killed the remaining penalty and regrouped. Joël Teasdale pulled Laval ahead once again with an unassisted back-hander that snuck its way behind Heat goaltender Louis Domingue. The Heat refused to be deflated by the apparent go-ahead goal and continued to press the Rocket, searching for a way to shift the momentum in their favor.  

Over in Laval’s end, netminder Michael McNiven was forced out of position on a save and forward Lukas Vejdemo stepped in and kept a sure goal on the rebound out of his net. The Rocket raced the puck back up the ice, where Joseph Blandisi finished a play from Teasdale and Guillaume Brisebois to extend the lead.  

The second period closed the same way the first did: with a Stockton power play. This time, Jesse Ylönen left his team a man down – serving two minutes for holding. The Heat took their power play into the locker room with them once more, trailing the Rocket by two after two.  

THIRD PERIOD  

Laval once again killed the remainder of the penalty to Ylönen and returned to even strength. The Heat found themselves on the power play shortly after, when Jan Mysak served a bench minor for too many men. Their unlucky streak a man up continued, and soon they found themselves heading to the kill for the second and third time. Carl-Johan Lerby sat for tripping, and the Heat managed to stave off the Rocket’s power play. As has become familiar to Rocket fans, the third period was riddled with penalties.  

When Justin Kirkland was assessed a minor – also for tripping – the Rocket capitalized on their numerical advantage. Otto Leskinen and Jordan Weal combined their effort with Ylönen’s lethal shot and scored the game’s first power-play goal. Immediately after the Rocket added another tally to their total, Connor Mackey allowed them to give it one more go when he shot the puck at a Laval player and was given a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Rocket were unsuccessful the second go-round. Vejdemo and Tuulola were given coincidental roughing minors, and both sides prepared themselves for some 4-on-4 play. Blandisi halted that with a hooking minor of his own. The Heat used the ensuing power play – opting to pull Domingue for the extra attacker – to close the gap to 4-2, courtesy of an unassisted marker from Michael Stone 

Stone almost immediately put his team back on the penalty kill with a kneeing minor, but the Heat kept the Rocket power play at bay one final time. Stockton used the momentum from their successful penalty kill to press onward, and Luke Philp – with an assist from Martin Pospisil – cut into the visitor’s lead again. Domingue was replaced with another skater for one last opportunity to salvage a point, but McNiven held on, and the Rocket headed down the tunnel with their first win of the weekend.  

With their win Saturday, the Rocket passed the Heat in the standings for first in the Canadian Division.  

SUNDAY 

FIRST PERIOD  

For the second game of the set, the returning foes had two different goals. The Rocket beat the Heat twice at home – Stockton was looking for retribution. Laval, for their part, looked to continue their winning streak.  

Just over a minute into the game, Blandisi took a feed from Teasdale on a delayed penalty and gave Laval the early lead instead of a power play. The Heat regrouped and charged onward for two minutes until the hardest thing to stomach for a spectator occurred.  

Yannick Veilleux, fresh off a two-game suspension for a crude gesture directed at the opposing team, stuck his knee out on Pospisil. The knee-to-knee contact’s impact rotated the Slovakian forward’s entire body and dropped him to the ice. Pospisil, unable to put any weight on his left leg, had to be helped off the ice. That was the game for Veilleux. Arsen Khisamutdinov served the kneeing major assessed on the hit, and the Heat found themselves a man down with a five-minute power play. At the time of writing, there were no updates from the league or the Heat regarding the status of either player involved in the collision.  

The Rocket held the Heat scoreless through the extended power play, and shortly after it expired, Froese found himself in the box, sitting for two on a holding call. Laval’s man-advantage units came up empty-handed, but Stockton used the opportunity to create some chances of their own. They were rewarded with the equalizer late when Stone capitalized on a setup by Mackey and Gawdin off of a faceoff.  

Both sides were down a man to end the first and took a tied game down their respective tunnels.  

SECOND PERIOD 

Back for the second period, it wasn’t long until the tone was set for the sandwich stanza. Vejdemo took two for interference, which the Rocket killed. The rest of the period went just like that: take a penalty, kill a penalty.  

The next penalty went to Mackey for holding, followed by a high-sticking minor to Yelesin. Both were killed off by the Heat. The period’s final disadvantage went to Alex Belzile with just a few seconds left to play in the second.  

The Rocket took the penalty back to the dressing room and got set for the Heat to start the third on the power play once again.  

THIRD PERIOD  

The Heat geared up to start the period a man up on the Rocket but could not break the tie on the power play. Their next opportunity came when Khisamutdinov found himself back in the penalty box, this time on his own penalty – a high-sticking minor. The penalty killers were once again victorious, and the teams spent most of the final frame at even strength. Play teetered back and forth between both teams’ zones while both squads searched for leverage on one another. Ultimately, it would be Laval who broke the deadlock.  

With helpers from Blandisi and Ryan Poehling, Teasdale took back the lead with a little over five minutes of play remaining in the game. Weal gave the Heat one final chance to even the score late in the game with a delay of game minor. To gain the upper hand, goaltender Garret Sparks was replaced with an extra attacker, but that decision sealed the game’s fate. Harvey-Pinard sent the puck to Blandisi, who shot it into the open Heat net, giving the Rocket a short-handed empty-net insurance marker.  

Sparks headed to the bench for one more shot with the extra attacker with a minute and a half left to play. Teasdale earned his second of the game with another empty-net goal with six seconds left – this time assisted by defenseman Cale Fleury 

When the final horn sounded, the Rocket notched their second win in as many days, extending their series lead over the Heat and cushioning their place in the standings as the Canadian Division leader.  

The Rocket and the Heat close out their four-game series at the Saddledome on Tuesday, March 23 (7 pm EDT).  

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2021 season!

    Deanna McFeron covers the Laval Rocket for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHRocket.

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