|FINAL | 2017-18 Season, Game 56 | Friday March 2, 2018
Place Bell, Laval, QC
Forward lines and defense pairings:
[one_half]Rychel – Cracknell – Terry
[one_half_last]Valiev – Lernout
Yannick Veilleux (lower body), Matt Taormina (upper body), Willie Corrin, Luc-Olivier Blain
Jeremiah Addison (shoulder)
After winning twice on the road last week, the Rocket returned to Place Bell on Friday night for a tilt against the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The game marked the Laval debut for two newcomers on the team: Rinat Valiev and Kerby Rychel, who were acquired from Toronto in a trade for Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun.
For most of the opening period, both teams were quick on their skates and played a fast, end-to-end game with very few stoppages or scoring chances.
Then, on Bridgeport’s second penalty of the game, Rychel made his presence known by scooping up a rebound off the end boards and poking the puck past Kristers Gudlevskis to put the Rocket up 1-0. Valiev was awarded the primary assist, as both new additions made an immediate impact on the scoreboard.
The Rocket followed that with two penalties of their own, but the penalty killing units and goaltender Michael McNiven stood tall as the Sound Tigers ramped up the pressure in the Laval zone.
Daniel Audette didn’t return in the second period after suffering a lower body injury in the first period. Stephen Gionta then evened the score at 1-1 after his shot redirected off of Eric Gelinas and popped behind McNiven.
There were some good shot attempts by both Jordan Boucher and Michael McCarron throughout the frame, but Gudlevskis denied each one. After a big scrum at center ice which landed both Niki Petti and Antoine Waked in the penalty box, Travis St. Denis managed to give Bridgeport the lead on the power play.
With just 21 seconds left in the period, Adam Cracknell scored his 21st goal of the season, cleaning up a shot by Chris Terry, to tie the score yet again before heading down the tunnel for intermission.
But the third period would haunt the Rocket as it has so many times in the past, with the Sound Tigers pressuring hard and scoring the go-ahead goal on a wrister in tight. They sealed their victory with an empty-netter on a late-period penalty.
Coach Sylvain Lefebvre confirmed for the media after the game that Audette and David Broll, both injured during the game, would not make the trip to Syracuse and Rochester this weekend. Reinforcements will need to come in from Brampton to fill holes on the Rocket’s forward lines.
▲ Kerby Rychel, Rinat Valiev, Jordan Boucher, Chris Terry, Adam Cracknell
▼ Eric Gelinas, Stefan Leblanc, Simon Bourque
|1 for 4||Power Play||2 for 5|
|AHL Three Stars|
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report
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