|FINAL | 2017-18 Season, Game 44 | Wednesday January 24, 2018
Place Bell, Laval, QC
Forward lines and defense pairings:
[one_half]Audette – Cracknell – Scherbak
[one_half_last]Gelinas – Taormina
Antoine Waked (illness), Jeremy Gregoire (suspension)
Chris Terry (lower body), Jeremiah Addison (shoulder)
After a huge bounceback shutout against Belleville on Saturday night, the Rocket returned to home ice Wednesday to take on the Syracuse Crunch. With a number of key players missing from the Crunch lineup, the two points up for grabs in this game were prime for Laval’s taking.
The Crunch came out firing on all cylinders, with goaltender Charlie Lindgren having to be sharp right from the start as they managed to control the puck and pressure in the Rocket defensive zone for much of the first half of the period.
Laval finally got their first shot on goal a little less than seven minutes into the frame on one of four power play opportunities they would have in the period. Stefan Leblanc and Niki Petti almost got the Rocket on the board as they got off a quality shorthanded chance on goal, but Connor Ingram made the stop.
Ingram also made a clutch save on Michael McCarron as he drove the net hard with the puck off a pass from behind the net. Finally, in the last minute of the period, Nikita Scherbak wired a perfectly aimed wrister from the top of the faceoff circle past Ingram to put the Rocket up 1-0 at intermission. Assists on the goal went to Matt Taormina and Adam Cracknell.
The second period saw the Rocket get a lot more pucks on net, as they came out of the gates with a lot of speed and determination. David Broll and Eric Gelinas both had dangerous shot attempts in close on Ingram, but the visiting netminder stopped them each time.
After McCarron headed to the penalty box for a slashing penalty, the Crunch evened the score with a quick wrister from the slot by Dennis Yan. The Syracuse penalty box continued to be a revolving door as player after player sat for minor infractions, but the Rocket power play units were unable to capitalize on any of the ensuing man advantage opportunities.
Then, with Petti in the box for elbowing, the Crunch took a 2-1 lead at the end of the period off a rebound from a shot off the faceoff. Laval headed to the dressing room knowing they had work to do.
The Rocket found themselves on consecutive penalties to begin the third period and the Crunch made them pay for it when Mitchell Stephens accepted a centering pass from behind the net and put the puck past Lindgren. Down two goals, the Laval team got more irritable as tensions continued to rise at any provocation. At one point, Kyle Baun even launched himself into the visitor’s bench to go after Olivier Archambault.
With Lindgren pulled for an extra attacker, Daniel Audette made sure a puck found its way to the back of the Crunch net to bring the home team within one goal late in the period. But they couldn’t find their way through Ingram a third time, and dropped this one with a final score of 3-2.
It seems the Rocket win one, then lose one. If they can find a way to string two wins together this weekend in a back-to-back series against a very talented Manitoba Moose team, it’ll do wonders for their confidence heading into the All-Star break.
▲ Nikita Scherbak, Noah Juulsen
▼ Eric Gelinas, Stefan Leblanc, Kyle Baun
|1 for 7||Power Play||2 for 8|
|AHL Three Stars|
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report
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