LAVAL (April 5, 2019) – The Laval Rocket and the Cleveland Monsters went face-to-face for the second time this week at Place Bell on Friday night and though the Rocket fought until the final buzzer, the Monsters claimed the victory due to a late third period goal that lifted them over the Rocket 3-2.
The Rocket, who were once again playing with just 11 forwards, opened the scoring against their divisional rival less than five minutes into the game. With a delayed penalty being called against the Monsters, Michael McNiven headed to the bench for an extra attacker which allowed Laval to keep possession of the puck. Some smart passing ensured that the puck stayed out of Cleveland’s hands and eventually the puck found its’ way to the stick of Alex Belzile, who one-timed his 18th of the season by Cleveland netminder Brad Thiessen before the Monsters could get a whistle. The Monsters had an opportunity with a man-advantage in the period as well, but failed to get on the board.
Brett Lernout benefitted from Thiessen being screened a little more than halfway through the second period to slap his fourth of the season behind him, doubling the Rocket’s lead. However, Derek Barach got one by a screened McNiven and Zac Dalpe slapped on by him during the final minute of play, bringing the teams back to square one after 40 minutes.
With the score still tied 2-2 with three minutes remaining in the game it appeared that the two teams would need overtime to determine the extra point, but Barach — who was named the game’s first star—netted his second of the evening with just 2:38 remaining in the third to give the Monsters their first lead of the night. Joël Bouchard pulled McNiven in favour of the extra attacker after the goal, but Cleveland held on to their victory.
The Rocket will play their final home game of the year on Saturday April 6 against the Hershey Bears at 3 p.m. before going on the road for a week to close out the season.
LAV: Belzile (Alzner, Audette) | Lernout (Lamarche, Kile)
CLE: Barach (Simpson, Letestu) | Dalpe (Sherwood, Carlsson) | Barach
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (22/25) | CLE: Thiessen (14/16)
Rocket Powerplay: 0/0 | Rocket Penalty Kill: 3/3
Three Stars: 1. Derek Barach – CLE | 2. Phélix Martineau – LAV | 3. Alex Belzile – LAV