ROCHESTER (March 29, 2019) – The Laval Rocket were at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester on Friday night to open their weekend road trip by taking on the fourth place overall Rochester Americans, and though Michael McNiven shined with 31 saves and kept his team in the game, the Rocket were unable to beat their divisional rival. Alex Belzile scored both goals for the Rocket in their 4-2 loss.
A delayed penalty called against the Rocket halfway through the opening period allowed Rochester netminder Adam Wilcox to get to the bench for the extra attacker, which opened the door for Sean Malone to get the Americans on the board. McNiven moved to make a save on a shot that went wide, and Malone picked up the puck that rebounded to the other side of the net to score his fourth of the season. Malone would later attempt to get a second goal by the Rocket’s goaltender but McNiven flashed his glove, which allowed Belzile’s goal 15 minutes into the period to tie the game at one. While the Americans were down two players due to a hooking penalty and a delay of game penalty, captain Xavier Ouellet slapped the puck from the point and Belzile found it in a scramble in front of the net to score his 16th of the season.
McNiven was dominant in the second period, facing 20 shots from the Americans and allowing just one of them to find the back of the net in the final minutes of play. The shot was a perfectly placed, NHL-quality one from Danny O’Reagan that went in the small opening over McNiven’s shoulder while the Americans were on the powerplay, giving them a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
With Judd Peterson being called for a holding penalty at the very end of the second period, the Rocket had a two-minute powerplay to start the final frame and it took them just 29 seconds to tie the game once again. Jake Evans dumped the puck deep into the Americans’ zone where Daniel Audette picked it up behind the net and passed it to Belzile, who was alone in the slot to score his second of the night. Despite the Rocket’s persistent effort however, Tage Thompson was able to deflect Arvin Atwal’s shot by McNiven 8:37 into the period and he would add an empty-net goal with seven seconds remaining in the game to lock in the final score of 4-2.
LAV: Belzile (Evans, Ouellet) | Belzile (Audette, Evans)
ROC: Malone (Hickey, Dougherty) | O’Reagan (Elie, Thompson) | Thompson (Atwal, MacWilliam) | Thompson (Paetsch, Porter)
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (31/34) | ROC: Wilcox (17/19)
Rocket Powerplay: 2/3|Rocket Penalty Kill: 2/3
Three Stars: 1. Tage Thompson – ROC | 2. Alex Belzile – LAV | 3. Danny O’Regan – ROC