|FINAL (OT) | 2017-18 Season, Game 24 | Saturday December 2, 2017
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Forward lines and defense pairings:
Terry – Audette – Eisenschmid
Veilleux – Cracknell – Gregoire
Boucher – Petti – Baun
Broll – Ebbing – Waked
Taormina – Lernout
Parisi – Juulsen
Bourque – Leblanc
Eric Gelinas, Willie Corrin
Michael McCarron (upper body), Jeremiah Addison (shoulder)
A mere 85 seconds had passed after the initial puck drop in Allentown, PA when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms scored an easy goal on Michael McNiven when the crowd of more than 8,000 fans began throwing hundreds of stuffed toys onto the ice. From a player’s perspective, it’s probably advantageous to get the teddy bear toss out of the way early so that the interruption and distraction of the fan-favorite event can be in the rear-view mirror for the remainder of the game.
However, it certainly wasn’t the way Sylvain Lefebvre‘s team wanted or needed to start a game against a dangerous opponent – especially when trying to break the pattern of their losing streak. Would this game be another disappointment? Could the Laval Rocket find a way to dig themselves out and come up with a win?
The answer didn’t come easily. The remainder of the opening frame was a back-and-forth affair in which both goaltenders, McNiven and Dustin Tokarski, came up big. Laval outshot their opponent in every period of this game, and it started to pay off in the second period when Daniel Audette evened the score at 1-1 off of a perfectly placed cross-ice pass from Chris Terry.
The visiting bench knew they had to keep the pressure on the Phantoms, and stay out of the penalty box; they did both pretty well. Despite falling behind 2-1 in the second period, the Rocket kept their determination and had plenty of good chances at the net, however they couldn’t get the puck past Tokarski.
Things began to look bleak when, with left than five minutes left in the game, Lehigh Valley potted another goal to put themselves up 3-1 over the Rocket. But as Adam Cracknell said after the game, there was no quit on the Laval bench. Cracknell himself, in just his second game with the team, began the comeback less than a minute later with a goal assisted by Jeremy Gregoire.
Time began to really tick down. Hundreds of fans, smelling victory and an early edge on traffic, had already left the building. The Rocket were pressing. Hard. With exactly 10 seconds left on the clock, Gregoire found the back of the net and, just like that, the game was tied and overtime was on the way.
The Rocket had been here plenty of times in recent games and needed to find a way to finish the job. It took just 1:16 into the extra minutes for Cracknell to definitively earn himself a place among his new teammates when he drove the net hard and fired home another perfect pass from Terry to grab the victory.
With a celebration that resembled something out of a playoff win, the Rocket players, coaches, and staff were all smiles after the game as they packed up and prepared for an eight hour drive back to Quebec. With a notch in the win column, they’re looking to start a new kind of streak this week as they return home to face Binghamton and Toronto.
▲ Adam Cracknell, Chris Terry, Noah Juulsen, Marcus Eisenschmid, Matt Taormina, Daniel Audette, Jeremy Gregoire
|0 for 3||Power Play||0 for 2|
|AHL Three Stars|
|Post-game interview with Sylvain Lefebvre
Post-game interview with Adam Cracknell
Post-game interview with Jeremy Gregoire
Post-game interview with Daniel Audette
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report
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