|FINAL | 2018-19 Season, Game 33 | Friday December 28, 2018
Place Bell, Laval, QC
Forward lines and defense pairings:
Audette – McCarron – Belzile
Shinkaruk – Evans – Alain
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Waked
Pezzetta – Martineau – Grenier
Sklenicka – Lernout
Ouellet – Fleury
Moravcik – Lamarche
Gustav Olofsson (shoulder), Charlie Lindgren (lower body), Hayden Verbeek (upper body), Byron Froese (undisclosed), Noah Juulsen (undisclosed)
Game report written by Chris G
The Rocket had a tough challenge as they returned home on Friday night. Their visitors, the Charlotte Checkers, were on top of the American Hockey League standings with 48 points heading into the game. Connor LaCouvee, signed to a professional tryout contract on Thursday, got the call in goal for Laval, giving Etienne Marcoux the night off after allowing six goals on 34 shots on Thursday night against Belleville.
The Checkers won the first two games of the season against the Rocket and were coming off a 3-1 win against Bridgeport on December 22nd. Before the game, it was announced that Byron Froese and Noah Juulsen would not play as they both sustained an injury during Thursday’s 6-to-4 loss against the Senators. Antoine Waked and Michal Moravcik drew back into the lineup to replace the two injured players.
In the first period, Charlotte looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in six days over the Christmas break and Laval took advantage by scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Lukas Vejdemo completed a tic-tac-toe play with Alex Belzile and Daniel Audette. Later in the period, Audette scored his third goal of the season as he picked up a puck that Alex Nedeljkovic had lost sight of in his crease. In the final moments of the period, Nikita Jevpalovs set up Hunter Shinkaruk in the slot for his fourth goal of the season, giving Laval a three-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
Since the rookie tournament in September, Joel Bouchard has mentioned several times that he expects his players to defend their teammates and we saw this happen twice in the first period. Michael Pezzetta and Michael McCarron both dropped their gloves to defend David Sklenicka and Jake Evans after they were both on the receiving end of hard hits.
The physical play continued in the second period as Sklenicka was forced to drop the gloves against Steven Lorentz, after hitting Zack Stortini into the boards. Charlotte was the better team in the second period, controlling play for most of the period. Greg McKegg and Dennis Robertson scored in the period to keep their team in the game.
The Checkers weren’t able to score the tying goal in the third period. In the final moments, Sklenicka made an accurate pass to Shinkaruk coming out of the penalty box and he scored on the breakaway to seal the victory for Laval.
LaCouvee made several quality saves throughout the game to record his first career win in the AHL. “He had a good game. A lot of emotion for him. Number 33 in the net brought him some luck. A few good saves,” said Joel Bouchard on Lacouvee’s 22-save performance.
These two teams play each other again on Saturday at 3:00pm Eastern time. Listen in the player below for full post-game audio.
▲ Alex Belzile, Brett Lernout, Connor LaCouvee, David Sklenicka
▼ Alexandre Grenier, Cale Fleury, Xavier Ouellet
|0 for 4||Power Play||1 for 4|
|AHL Three Stars|
|Post-game interview with Joel Bouchard:
Post-game interview with Daniel Audette:
Post-game interview with Alex Belzile:
Post-game interview with Connor LaCouvee:
Post-game interview with Hunter Shinkaruk:
Interviews conducted by Chris G for AHL Report
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