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Rocket Slay Monsters in Goalie Showdown

LAVAL, QC – Monday night, the Laval Rocket and Cleveland Monsters met up in the first of two games against one another in Laval this week. It took a shootout to decide the ensuing goaltending duel.  

From the first minute of play, it was clear that this game would be a high-speed thriller. The Monsters and Rocket traded possession and offensive-zone time every few seconds until Laval took control and camped out in front of Jet Greaves for a little while. The home team took the first penalty of the game. While the Monsters had some good looks and tested Kevin Poulin early, the Rocket easily handled the penalty kill, took advantage of a turnover, and created a shorthanded chance. Back at even strength, time ticked down off the clock at breakneck speed – there were very few whistles, skaters zipping from one zone to another, and quick plays being executed. By the time the Rocket were awarded their first power play, the back-and-forth action had yet to result in a goal for either side. As the first period ended, it was a pretty even matchup with the slightest edge going to Laval.  

 Early in the second period, the Rocket opened the scoring courtesy of Danick Martel. Laval looked to build off that goal and take full control of the game, but Cleveland matched pace with them and held them off. The second period didn’t have any other scoring, but the game was still exciting. Laval doesn’t see Cleveland nearly as much as they see teams like Utica or Syracuse, so there isn’t very much bad blood to pump into these games that makes for inherently exciting hockey, but this game was fun for exactly that reason. There were no penalties assessed in the second period and what both teams brought to the ice was just fast-paced, high-octane hockey. Even though that “just hockey” was extremely low scoring, the pure, unadulterated effort of two teams matching speed and pace where one is looking toward the playoffs for the first time in the club’s existence, and the other has nothing to lose but everything to gain met in the middle and turned a mundane Monday night matchup into a showdown in a Montreal suburb. 

The one constant throughout the first two periods and into the third was that the goaltending on both sides of the ice was exactly what the teams in front of it needed it to be – phenomenal. Poulin and Greaves were the only reason this game stayed as contained as it did. There were so many chances that both squads had that should have – and probably would have – lit the lamp if not for two international highwaymen committing grand larceny between a set of steel pipes. Just past the halfway mark of the third period, the Monsters took another crack at the power play, and this time, they solved the puzzle, and Justin Scott slipped a puck behind Laval’s goal line. With both sides eager to get two points in regulation, they both doubled down on the blitzing they sustained through two and a half periods. Officials were willing to let them keep playing unless an infraction couldn’t be ignored. The Rocket held control over most of the game, but the Monsters clawed their way back into it and, even though they failed to take the lead and close it out, extended their point streak and forced overtime.  

Overtime looked exactly like the three prior regulation periods with fewer men on the ice. It was quick blitzes of back-and-forth action, little stoppage, and goalies coming up massive behind their teams. The extra period wasn’t enough to find a winner, though. The showdown in Laval had to be decided in a shootout. Up first was Rafaël Harvey-Pinard for Laval and Scott for Cleveland. Harvey-Pinard missed, but Scott did not – 0-1 Cleveland. Next was Jesse Ylönen and Trey Fix-Wolansky; Ylönen scored, and Fix-Wolansky’s shot was stopped by Poulin – 1-1. Neither Kevin Roy nor Tyler Angle scored, and Jean- Sébastien Dea and Kevin Stenlund were also blanked – 1-1. The fifth and final round was Alexandre Fortin versus Tyler Sikura. Fortin scored a goal on one end, and Poulin stopped Sikura on the other to secure the extra point for the home team.  

QUICK STATS

Here’s the quick breakdown of some notable stats from the Laval Rocket:

  • Record: 24-16-3-0 (51 Points, 3rd in the North Division, 12th in the League)
  • Points Leader: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (24)
  • Goals Leader: Jean-Sébastien Dea (15)
  • Goaltending Leader: Kevin Poulin (0.923 SV%)

The Rocket and the Monsters square off again at Place Bell on Wednesday, March 2, at 7:30 pm EST. Fans may see more of the chippy hockey that they’re used to seeing out of the Rocket in the rematch to establish themselves as serious playoff contenders and make sure that they secure their very first ticket to the postseason in the club’s history.  

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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