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Material for the highlight reel

LAVAL, CANADA – NOVEMBER 4: Toronto Marlies v Laval Rocket at Place Bell on November 4, 2023 in Laval, QC, Canada. (Photo by LAURENT CORBEIL / Arena du Rocket Inc.)

By Justin Vézina

Jakub Dobeš has been generous in recent days. In the first few games of November, he single-handedly provided enough spectacular saves to send a DVD set into production.

The goalkeeper was imperial, making numerous saves in extremis in the Laval Rocket’s last few games. First, on Wednesday November 1, despite a 4-1 loss to the Utica Comets, the 22-year-old Czech stood up to several quality chances by the visitors to keep his team in the game.

His best saves, however, were reserved for the Toronto Marlies, the team’s Friday and Saturday night rivals.

On Friday, his multiple saves were imperative to his side’s success. The hosts were able to take advantage of their goalkeeper’s brilliance to come from behind and defeat the Marlies 5-3. A performance that earned him many cheers from the crowd.

“I’m getting better every day. Little by little, I’m making progress, and that’s the mentality I have. I’m working really hard to be more confident every day. It’s a totally different situation for me now than it was, say, for the opening match,” he recounted after the victory.

Barely 24 hours later, against the same Marlies, Dobeš was decisive. He stopped no fewer than three breakaways in the first two periods, giving his team-mates hope.

Ultimately, the laval club folded 5-0, but many noted the stopper’s good performance, and this for a third consecutive game.

“He’s our goalkeeper of the future and we wanted to see what he could do with two games in a row. And it wasn’t a 3 p.m. game either. He’s often played on Fridays and Saturdays at university, and he played well enough yesterday to deserve the start today,” said Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle, explaining Dobeš’s back-to-back starts.

Struble, Maillet and Galipeau stand out

In Wednesday’s duel, defenseman Jayden Struble scored his first professional goal with a precise wrist shot. The goal not only got the Rocket back into the game, but also confirmed the American’s excellent start to the season.

“It was really cool. After hitting the post earlier in the game, I really wanted one [goal]. Fortunately, I got one. But it’s definitely harder when you lose,” said Struble after the game against the Comets.

Then, on Friday, the spotlight was on Philippe Maillet, who was no stranger to showmanship. He scored his first goal for the Laval club midway through the third period to cut the deficit to one goal, then played the hero by redirecting Logan Mailloux’s shot into the net with almost a minute left in the third period.

“It sure doesn’t have the same effect when you pull off a comeback like that in front of what sounded like 30,000 fans! There’s definitely an effect in the heart and chest that’s hard to shake off. It’s adrenaline and it’s fun to have.”

In the second game in 24 hours against the Marlies, defenseman Olivier Galipeau stood out for his selflessness, particularly on the special units, blocking a plethora of shots.

“I think he played well,” Jean-François Houle began by summing up the Quebecer’s performance. “He’s one of our players who competes, is physical and blocks shots. That’s exactly what he did tonight.”

For the Rocket, Saturday night’s game also marked the start of a seven-day stretch without a game. An appropriate time to perfect certain aspects of the game, as Houle pointed out.

“It’s going to be a good week of practice. We’ll have our development people here to work with our youngsters and do some video,” he said.

The team will then play five games in the space of 7 days, including two at Place Bell. First, on Wednesday, November 15, against the Belleville Senators, and then on Friday, November 17, against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as part of the Hockey fights cancer game.

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