|FINAL | 2018-19 Season, Game 20 | Saturday November 24, 2018
Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
Forward lines and defense pairings:
Shinkaruk – Evans – Froese
Belzile – McCarron – Alain
Jevpalovs – Vejdemo – Grenier
Audette – Martineau – Waked
Plant – Lamarche
Moravcik – Lernout
Sklenicka – Sproul
Ryan Culkin, Michael Pezzetta
Gustav Olofsson (shoulder), Cale Fleury (day-to-day), Hayden Verbeek (day-to-day)
The Laval Rocket find themselves on yet another losing streak: this one three games in length, so far. Penalties have proven to be a problem for the team, and their special teams have been sub-par – even their once top-ranked penalty kill has slipped in the last few games.
With Montreal tapping its farm team yet again in recent days (defenseman Brett Kulak was called up to the Canadiens), Joel Bouchard is starting to experience the revolving door of injuries and call-ups every AHL coach has to endure. With a team currently on a slide, and heading into Charlotte to face the league’s top-ranked team, the Rocket had a tough task ahead on Saturday night as they took on the Checkers in the first game of the back-to-back series.
The opening period seemed to be all Charlotte who managed to outshoot and out-muscle the Rocket at every turn. The Checkers took an early 2-0 lead off of goals by Valentin Zykov and Patrick Brown, with Zykov’s goal coming off a big rebound in the slot and Brown’s goal a one-timer from the blue line.
Alexandre Alain and Michael McCarron both had good opportunities to get the Rocket on the board, but Alex Nedeljkovic denied them both the chance. It wasn’t until Ryan Sproul fed the puck to Michal Moravcik all alone at the point, who beat Nedeljkovic cleanly, that Laval was able to get a goal back. The goal was Moravcik’s first in the American League.
The second period was all Charlotte, despite Byron Froese tying the game early in the frame with a quick backhander in tight. After that, the physicality in the game really ramped up and seemed to distract the Rocket from their game plan.
Jake Bean gave the Checkers their lead back when he fired a wrister from the circle which may have deflected in off of Hunter Shinkaruk‘s stick. Three consecutive penalties late in the period allowed the Checkers to add to their lead, as well as give them a power play to start the third period.
In the third period, Charlie Lindgren continued to be sharp as he was forced to make plenty of good saves on a Charlotte team that just kept firing the puck in his direction. And although the Rocket managed to shoot the puck a little bit more in this period, they still couldn’t get any past the Checkers’ netminder. It was one of few games this season where they suffered a loss while also being outshot by their opponent.
Laval will face off against the Checkers again on Sunday afternoon for an early matinee. They’ll need to bring a physical, disciplined game against Charlotte and find ways to get shots on Nedeljkovic if they want to give themselves a chance to nab two out of a possible four points in this series to end the road trip.
▲ Jake Evans, Byron Froese
▼ Alexandre Grenier, Michael McCarron, Adam Plant
|0 for 2||Power Play||1 for 5|
|AHL Three Stars|
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report
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