Phil Varone – Jake Evans – Riley Barber
Charles Hudon – Ryan Poehling – Alex Belzile
Nikita Jevpalovs – Lukas Vejdemo – Joe Cox
Michael Pezzetta – Kevin Lynch – Dale Weise
Xavier Ouellet – Otto Leskinen
Gustav Olofsson – Maxim Lamarche
Karl Alzner – Josh Brook
Cayden Primeau – Charlie Lindgren
William Pelletier, Ryan Culkin, David Sklenicka, Alexandre Alain
Matthew Peca (day-to-day)
The 2019-20 season has been the worst start yet for the Laval Rocket in its young history. Going winless through the first three games is something the team hoped to change on Monday afternoon as they visited another team searching for their first victory this year, the Rockford IceHogs, for the first time.
Early in the game, Laval did something pretty familiar: controlled the puck, got a lot of shots on goal, and seemed to have endless energy and motivation. That all changed when, after a lost faceoff in the offensive zone, the Rocket forwards got caught back and Jacob Nilsson fed a perfect centering pass to Philip Holm in the high slot to put the IceHogs on the board first.
That goal seemed to let a bit of air out of the Rocket’s tires, and Rockford slowly climbed back up the shot clock as they began to dominate play. Laval had another burst of shot attempts to close out the period, as Nikita Jevpalovs and Gustav Olofsson worked to get some good scoring chances.
The second period was one of the best 20 minutes that Laval has played so far this season. They dominated the shot clock once again, but the majority of their shots were taken right on the doorstep with only a few from the perimeter.
Laval’s power play also had some success in the frame as Alex Belzile scored just seven seconds into the man advantage when he pushed the puck through the crease and it deflected off of a defender’s stick. Ryan Poehling was credited with the secondary assist on the goal, his first point in the AHL.
Soon after, Lukas Vejdemo potted his first goal of the season as he took advantage of a big rebound off of Collin Delia and, from the slot, floated the puck up and into the net.
In the third period, the IceHogs had a couple of power play opportunities to try to even the score, but were unable to slow down a surging Laval Rocket team. The visitors continued to pepper Delia with pucks, ultimately outshooting Rockford 43-22.
With about five minutes left in the game Charles Hudon scored his second goal of the season to seal the victory for Laval. Otto Leskinen made a solid pass to Hudon in the slot of the faceoff, who blasted a one-timer into the Rockford net.
This was the best full 60 minutes of hockey that Laval has played this season. Keys to success were fewer penalties, getting penetration to the net, less perimeter shots, and better overall defense. The Rocket now head back to Quebec to get ready for three home games this week, starting with a visit from the Providence Bruins on Wednesday.
Plus / Minus
▲ Otto Leskinen, Nikita Jevpalovs, Ryan Poehling, Gustav Olofsson