Laval Rocket vs Syracuse Crunch Game Recap: Line-up, Score, Game Report, Statistics, Highlights, Three Stars, Post-Game, Interviews, AHL, Rocket Sports Media

FINAL | North Division Semifinal – Game 1 | Friday, May 6, 2022
Upstate Medical University Arena, Syracuse, NY

ROCKET

Laval

3-5

CRUNCH

Syracuse

Rocket Lineup

Forward lines

Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Jean-Sebastien Dea – Alex Belzile

Brandon Gignac – Cedric Paquette – Jesse Ylonen

Gabriel Bourque – Nate Schnarr – Joel Teasdale

Lucas Condotta – Jean-Christophe Beaudin – Danick Martel

Defense pairings

Xavier Ouellet – Louie Belpedio

Sami Niku – Tory Dello

Corey Schueneman – Tobie Paquette-Bisson

Goaltenders

Kevin Poulin – Cayden Primeau

Scratches

Olivier Galipeau, Peter Abbandonato, Terrance Amorosa, Nicolas Mattinen, Owen Savory, Cameron Hillis, Gabriel Mollott-Hill, Lucas Condotta, Kevin Roy, Mattias Norlinder, Alexandre Fortin, Devante Smith-Pelly, Emil Heineman, Justin Ducharme, Max Kaufman

Injuries

Gianni Fairbrother (undisclosed), Lukas Vejdemo (lower body)

Game Report

Game Report written by Amy Johnson

Zero out the statistics. Change the mindset. Get ready for an entirely new kind of hockey, because it’s Calder Cup Playoffs time! The Laval Rocket fought their way into a postseason berth for the first time in their five-year franchise history this year, securing a first-round bye with their third place finish in the division.

That meant their playoffs would start on Friday night with the first game of a best-of-five series in the North Division Semifinals against the Syracuse Crunch. The first two games will take place on back-to-back nights in Syracuse, as the Crunch hold home-ice advantage for the series.

Reinforcements were brought up from the Trois-Rivieries Lions this week, after the Canadiens’ ECHL affiliate was eliminated in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and new additions like Mattias Norlinder and Emil Heineman joined the team for practices as well.

Head coach Jean-Francois Houle seemed to be serious about winning however, and did not add any of the fresh faces to the lineup. He also selected veteran netminder Kevin Poulin to get the first start in net for the Rocket.

First Period

Syracuse is always a tough building to play in for visiting teams, and much more so in the postseason. The arena was packed with fans, loud, and electrifying.

The Rocket had a good scoring chance early on as Nate Schnarr jumped on a Crunch turnover at the blue line and skated into the zone with Gabriel Bourque on a two-on-one. Max Lagace was up to the task, however, and kept them out of his net.

Laval was gifted an early power play when the Crunch were guilty of having too many men on the ice, but before the man advantage could begin, there was plenty of pushing and shoving as the two teams got a bit acquainted.

On the ensuing power play, Alex Belzile was ready in the slot to bury a rebound and put the Rocket up 1-0. The score evened up a few minutes later, though, when Remi Elie came over the boards and intercepted a Rocket pass in the left circle. Elie blasted the puck past Poulin to make it 1-1.

The tensions were obvious in this game early on, and grew increasingly more intense as the period progressed. For now, however, both teams kept a lid on their emotions.

Late in the period, Lucas Condotta took a high-sticking penalty and the Crunch managed to covert their power play when Cole Koepke deflected a puck into the net from the slot.

Second Period

The middle frame got interesting just over a minute after the opening faceoff, when Anthony Richard found himself alone in the slot in front of Poulin and batted in a rebound to put the Crunch up by two goals. 

During a Rocket power play later in the period, Frederik Claesson lost a skate blade while blocking a shot. With no clears and no whistles for the remainder of the man advantage and then some, Claesson was stuck in the slot on one knee, unable to help his team much. Joel Teasdale took full advantage, got in close to the crease, and banged in a loose puck to pull the Rocket within a goal.

But the Crunch restored their two-goal advantage late in the game after Danick Martel cross-checked goaltender Lagace in the back of the head. That action drew a large crowd, for obvious reasons, and both Martel and Xavier Ouellet found themselves in the penalty box. On the Syracuse power play, Charles Hudon rang a puck off the right post and Gemel Smith was waiting on the opposite side to tap in the rebound.

Third Period

Just over six minutes into the third period, Belzile scored his second goal of the night when he and Jean-Sebastien Dea connected on a drive to the net. The Rocket were now only trailing 4-3.

A late penalty by Louie Belpedio put the Rocket down a man with just 6:48 remaining in regulation, but Laval was able to successfully kill it off. Could they find an equalizer in the remaining five minutes of play? Well, they certainly tried.

Particularly in the final two minutes, after Poulin went to the bench for the extra attacker, Laval poured on the pressure in the offensive zone. But Lagace and the Syracuse defenders did the work to turn aside and block shots effectively. A turnover by Laval led to a two-on-one breakaway and Richard buried an empty-netter for his second goal of the night.

What’s Next?

The Rocket will need to dig deep and try to get some points out of Saturday night’s rematch in Syracuse, in order to avoid heading back to Quebec down two games in the series and potentially facing elimination.

Plus / Minus

▲ Alex Belzile, Sami Niku, Nate Schnarr

▼ Danick Martel, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Lucas Condotta

The Numbers

 Game Statistics 
ROCKET   CRUNCH
31 Shots 31
1 for 2 Power Play 2 for 4
10 Penalty Minutes 6
 Scoring Summary
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
Rocket (0-1-0-0) 1 1 1 3
Crunch (1-0-0-0) 2 2 1 5
Scorers Goalies
  • LAV: Belzile (1)-PPG, Teasdale (1), Belzile (2)
  • SYR: Elie (1), Koepke (1)-PPG, Richard (1), Smith (1)-PPG, Richard (2)-ENG
  • LAV: Poulin (L) 0-1-0-0
  • SYR: Lagace (W) 1-0-0-0

Stars of the Game​​

 AHL Official Three Stars
  1. Anthony Richard  SYR
  2. Cole Koepke  SYR
  3. Max Lagace  SYR

Watch

 Video Highlights

What Did They Say?

 Post-game Interviews

Post-game interviews not available for tonight’s road game

Social Media

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