BINGHAMTON (April 13, 2019) – The Laval Rocket brought their 2018-19 season to a close on the road against the Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night, where Nikita Jevpalovs netted the game tying goal in the final minute of play as well as the game-winner in overtime three minutes into the extra frame to give the Rocket a 4-3 victory. Michael McNiven made 26 saves in the Rocket’s win while defenseman Josh Brook picked up his first professional point on Laval’s second goal.
McNiven was Laval’s busiest player in the opening frame, having to make multiple big saves against the divisional rival to keep the game scoreless. His biggest save came halfway through the period as he took away a sure-goal from John Quenneville who one-timed the puck on a two-on one, but McNiven saw the play through and slid over fast enough for the puck to hit his pad rather than the back of the net. The Devils did eventually get a goal during the first period however, with Quenneville picking up the assist on the goal that was scored with 2:29 remaining.
The floodgates opened in the second period with four goals being scored by period’s end. The first belonged to Michael Pezzetta who found the back of the net just 4:34 into the period by tapping Daniel Audette’s rebound behind Cam Johnson mid-fall to make it a 1-1 game. Josh Brook’s pass to Xavier Ouellet ten minutes later—which ended up being his first professional point—allowed the Rocket captain to give his team their first lead of the night due to a wrist shot taken from near the blue line. Despite the two goals, the Devils headed to the dressing room with a 3-2 lead thanks to two goals that were scored 18 seconds apart during the final minute of play.
With no penalties being called in the final frame, the two teams left it all out on the ice in the third with no change in the scoring until Jevpalovs fired a quick wrist shot past Johnson with 50 seconds remaining in the game. Johnson and McNiven put on a goaltending clinic in the ensuing overtime period but Jevpalovs was up to the task, netting the game-winner by skating straight towards Johnson, bringing the puck back between his legs, and sending it under Johnson’s arm to secure the 4-3 victory for the Rocket.
LAV: Pezzetta (Audette, Fleury) | Ouellet (Brook) | Jevpalovs|Jevpalovs
BNG: Pietila (Quenneville, Anderson) | Quenneville (White, Pietila) | Groleau (Tangradi, McLeod)
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (26/29) | BNG: Johnson (21/25)
Rocket Powerplay: 1/2 | Rocket Penalty Kill: 1/2
Three Stars: 1. Nikita Jevpalovs – LAV | 2. Jeremy Groleau – BNG | 3. Blaket Pietila – BNG