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Rocket, Marlies Renew Rivalry in Explosive Reunion

Rocket, Marlies Renew Rivalry in Explosive Reunion

LAVAL, QC – The Laval Rocket and Toronto Marlies faced off Wednesday for the first time this season in an explosive reunion between the budding rivals.  

FIRST PERIOD 

The Rocket were back at home after being shut out by the Bridgeport Islanders over the weekend. They won the opening faceoff at Place Bell and immediately set the tone for the game, camping out in the Marlies’ end and testing goaltender Joseph Woll. A little back and forth between the zones rounded off a short feeling out period. The sizing up was cut short at 01:49 when Michael Pezzetta picked up a rebound off Tobie Paquette-Bisson’s shot and buried it.

Shortly afterward, the Rocket got their first shot at the power play when Alex Biega was assessed a game misconduct plus five minutes for checking Rafaël Harvey-Pinard to the head. Harvey-Pinard was slow to get up following the hit but skated off the ice and to the locker room under his own steam and later returned to the bench and the game.  

The Rocket power play was calm and collected, quickly moving the puck and the penalty killers to set up great chances. That great work led to the second goal on the night for the home team. Louie Belpedio – assisted by Danick Martel and Jean-Christophe Beaudin – lit the lamp on the long man advantage to earn his first in a Rocket sweater. And there was still time left on the five-minute major to Biega.  

Just past the six-minute mark, Kirill Semyonov left the Marlies even more shorthanded than they were when he was assessed a cross-checking penalty. The 5-on-3 also proved to be too much for the visiting penalty killers to stave off. Seventeen seconds on the power play, and Laurent Dauphin netted his first of the evening. Xavier Ouellet and Jesse Ylönen also found themselves on the score sheet for the first time with assists on Dauphin’s goal.

The remainder of the penalty to Biega was all Laval. Toronto did manage to find a way to strip the puck away and spend a moment in front of Rocket Netminder Cayden Primeau but to no avail. Laval closed out the power play in front of Woll.  

When the Marlies did manage to find a way to set up shop in the Rocket end, Primeau, who spent the better part of the first half of the period without much to do, easily stopped their first shot of the night. After that, they were able to get to know the ice in the offensive zone but were met with the disruptive play of the Rocket and struggled to find shooting lanes or space to create chances. The Rocket were buzzing, and for every second they spent on defense, they spent twice as long camped out in enemy territory.  

At 17:38, Brandon Baddock was sent off for tripping, and the Marlies got their first great opportunity to swing some momentum in their favor. They could not solve the Primeau puzzle, and both sides returned to full strength, with the Rocket still holding a solid three-goal lead. As the buzzer sounded to close the period, Pezzetta found his dance partner for the night in Brett Seney, and both were assessed roughing and fighting penalties they would take into the second. 

SECOND PERIOD  

Two minutes and ten seconds into the sandwich stanza, Gianni Fairbrother gave Toronto another chance to make their mark on the scoreboard with a slashing call. The Marlies once again had no answer for Primeau, and the power play ended without changing the score. Back at even strength, a turnover in the Rocket zone found its way from Martel and Fairbrother to Dauphin, who capitalized on a good look for his second of the night and padded the score to a round 4-0.  

The Rocket refused to let up and ramped up the pressure on the forecheck while tightening the chokehold on the backcheck. Halfway through the second, the second dance card of the game was punched. Baddock didn’t like a hit on teammate Brandon Gignac and exchanged fists with Richard Clune. Both men sat for five on fighting calls. Before Baddock and Clune finished serving their sentences, Laval native Jean-Sébastien Dea picked off a rebound from Fairbrother and Ylönen that extended the lead and sent Woll off for Erik Källgren.  

The Rocket’s onslaught didn’t end there. They closed the period the way they spent the entirety of the game, finding ways around the Marlies to set up chances in the offensive zone. They were still pressing when the horn sent the two sides to their respective locker rooms.  

THIRD PERIOD  

As the third period loomed, the chippiness of the second threatened to boil over.  

The Marlies started the period with possession of the puck and looked to close the gap on the shot clock. However, roughly three-and-a-half minutes later, Kurtis Gabriel took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for roughing and sent the Rocket to the power play once more. Thirty-two seconds later, the power play was negated by Ylönen (hooking).  

Settling in for nearly two minutes of 4-on-4 play, the Marlies use the extra space to let off some excellent chances that Primeau was up to the challenge of. The Rocket regained possession, but time was up, and the Marlies got 30 seconds with the man advantage. It was unsuccessful, but the visitors did hang on to the puck and got their best opportunity of the night to break the shut out on a rush headed by Josh Ho-Sang 

Ho-Sang’s effort gave his team a bit of life, and they looked to pick up steam and put some pressure of their own on the Laval defense. It might have been successful on their next chance had a backchecking Rocket not knocked the net behind Primeau loose, stopping play. Play moved back to the spot it was most acquainted with for the next several minutes as the Rocket kept the momentum they never let go of. During this time that Källgren made one of the best, if not the best, saves of the night.  

Shortly afterward, Teemu Kivihalme was down behind the net. He needed help off the ice for what appeared to be an injury to some part of his left leg. The loss of Kivihalme was a significant blow to the already shortened Marlies bench – they were down to just four defensemen, having already lost Biega to that game misconduct in the first. They were not helped by the following sequence of events that kicked off a deliciously chaotic half-period of hockey.  

At the 09:11 mark, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev was sent off to the box for high-sticking. The Rocket played a full two minutes a man up but came up empty-handed. Thirty-five seconds after that penalty expired, Mikhail Abramov spent two minutes in the sin bin for slashing. Another thirty-five seconds later, Ouellet took his turn in hockey timeout for interference, and play shifted back to 4-on-4. Twenty-four seconds after that, both teams got their first look at 4-on-3.  

Seney went off for slashing, and although there was nothing doing on the power play, the Rocket continued their effort to squash the Marlies into submission only to make some glaring passing errors that allowed Toronto to try their hands at short-handed opportunities. The Rocket did end the 4-on-3 in the Marlies’ zone, only to watch agitator Pezzetta skate toward the box of shame for goaltender interference at 15:10. They were successful on yet another penalty kill and the moment that had been brewing since that scrap in the first finally arrived: a tilly. A donnybrook. A full-on line brawl.  

The Rocket and Marlies are on a crash course heading straight toward a rivalry the likes of the one their respective parent organizations have always enjoyed. At 17:26 of the third period in their first tilt of the season, they took the first major step in cementing it. Twenty coincidental penalties were doled out. Two penalties each – fighting and a secondary altercation penalty – were assessed to: 

  • Curtis Douglas  
  • Kurtis Gabriel 
  • Jack Kopacka 
  • Brennan Menell 
  • Jean-Christophe Beaudin 
  • Louie Belpedio 
  • Gabriel Bourque  
  • Gianni Fairbrother 

Richard Clune, the captain of the Toronto Marlies, was saddled with four penalties of his own: 

  • Instigating 
  • Fighting 
  • Game misconduct – instigator (last 5:00) 
  • Game misconduct – Third major/ second fight 

The Rocket ended the game on a seven-minute power play that amounted to nothing but helped to protect Primeau’s perfect game.  

The Rocket improved to a 4-2-0 record with Wednesday’s win, good for 3rd in the North Division and 12th in the American Hockey League. The Rocket are back in action at home on Friday, October 29, at 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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