Matthew Peca – Michael McCarron – Riley Barber
Dale Weise – Ryan Poehling – Kevin Lynch
Alexandre Alain – Lukas Vejdemo – Joe Cox
Nikita Jevpalovs – Jake Evans – Antoine Waked
Gustav Olofsson – David Sklenicka
Otto Leskinen – Christian Folin
Karl Alzner – Josh Brook
Cayden Primeau – Charlie Lindgren
Noah Juulsen (illness), Ryan Culkin, Maxim Lamarche, Michael Pezzetta
William Pelletier (undisclosed), Phil Varone (wrist), Xavier Ouellet (lower body), Evan McEneny (lower body), Alex Belzile (upper body)
It’s the team that the Laval Rocket faces 12 teams each season: the Belleville Senators. And it’s the team that, more often than not, seems to outplay the Rocket no matter what. Coming off two road wins last weekend, Belleville was looking to continue their streak, while Laval was looking to bounce back after a mediocre week on home ice.
For the first 20 minutes, the ice was obviously tilted in one direction. The Sens controlled the puck and the pace, and were heavy on their forecheck. They opened up a wide margin in shots which Laval struggled to close throughout the frame.
After Matthew Peca took the only penalty of the period, for holding, it didn’t take long for the home team to put up a power play goal. Drake Batherson walked right in around Gustav Olofsson, Jake Evans, and Ryan Poehling and softly shot the puck right past Cayden Primeau.
Then, with just 29 seconds left until intermission, one of Belleville’s other dangerous forwards, Alex Formenton, found the back of Laval’s net after Rudolfs Balcers made a drop pass in the slot which Formenton picked up and fired.
It was quite a role reversal in the second period, though, as Belleville spent almost six continuous minutes in the penalty box after Vitaly Abramov took two minor penalties, immediately followed by a hooking call on Cole Cassels. While Cassels was in the box, Joe Cox took advantage of a Lukas Vejdemo screen and got the Rocket on the board.
The third period brought the Rocket out firing on all cylinders. Just 14 seconds into the frame, Antoine Waked crashed the crease and put in the puck after Evans had dished it into the paint, tying the game at 2-2. Then, still within the first minute of the period, when Cox and Andreas Englund headed off to the penalty box, making for four-on-four hockey, Matthew Peca gave Laval their first lead of the night.
It seemed as if the Rocket had finally put the pieces together and were gaining some momentum. And that’s when the train fell off the track. Laval would give up another power play goal to Belleville when Josh Norris ripped a wrister from the top of the far circle to pull the Senators even again.
Then on the night’s second bout of four-on-four hockey, Formenton picked up a loose puck in his own zone, avoided a hip check from Riley Barber, and skated the puck up through the neutral zone, into the Laval zone and ripped it right past Primeau.
Cassels sealed the win for Belleville when he deflected a Balcers shot in close to give the Senators a 5-3 victory.
After going on a bit of a surge, the Rocket seem to have stalled in the standings as their division rivals continue to rack up some wins. Laval faces another big challenge on Friday when they continue their road trip in Syracuse.
Plus / Minus
▲ Jake Evans, Josh Brook, Matthew Peca
▼ Christian Folin, Dale Weise, Cayden Primeau