LAVAL (January 4, 2018) – The Laval Rocket fell to the visiting Rochester Americans in a tight 3-2 shootout loss in the first of a two-game series on Friday evening at Place Bell. The Americans—who currently sit in first place in the North Division—proved a strong opponent for the Rocket who were met with intensity and physicality from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer.
The Americans came out of the gate with strong offensive pressure, making solid plays in the offensive zone and getting good scoring chances. The period remained scoreless until the final seconds, as the Rocket defense kept their opponent at bay. With 2.5 seconds remaining in the first frame, David Sklenicka gave the Rocket the lead with his second of the season, assisted by Maxim Lamarche and Byron Froese.
Midway through the second period, the Rochester side would answer back to even the score as Alexander Nylander notched his eighth goal of the season on a powerplay. Shortly after, the Rocket scored a powerplay goal of their own, regaining their lead. Laval’s recently named 2019 All-Star game representative Alex Belzile gets his seventh of the season, assisted by Xavier Ouellet and Daniel Audette. With under a minute remaining in the second frame, the Americans evened the score on a lucky bounce tipped in off the stick of Brent Lernout, as he attempted to fend off his opponent’s shot.
With both the Rocket and their opponent looking for a third goal, the third period was marked by physicality coming from both sides of the ice. Despite solid scoring chances for both teams, neither could find the back of the net before the third period came to an end, forcing overtime. Once again, neither team was successful in scoring. Ultimately, the Rocket were toppled in the fifth round of the shootout by a sniper from Alexander Nylander.
Despite the loss, the team demonstrated an ability to compete against the top teams in the league.
“I think we showed again tonight that when we stick to our game plan, we’re a team that doesn’t give much defensively,” said veteran Alex Belzile. “We played tight and we pushed them to the shootout and we knew they were an excellent team with lots of talent in their lineup. I think we performed well tonight, but that we’re still capable of raising our game a notch individually.”
LAV: Sklenicka (Lamarch, Froese) | Belzile (Audette, Ouellet)
RCH: Nylander (Guhle, Simpson) |Peterson (Redmond) | Nylander (SO)
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (32/34) | RCH: Wedgewood (22/24)
Rocket Powerplay: 1/3 | Rocket Penalty Kill: 1/2
Three Stars: 1. Zach Redmond – RCH | 2. Victor Olofsson– RCH | 3. Daniel Audette – LAV