SPRINGFIELD (January 21, 2019) – Ten different players registered at least a point in the Laval Rocket’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds at MassMutual Center on Monday night, making it five straight games that the Rocket have earned at least one point in the standings for their hunt to make the playoffs.
A powerplay goal for the Thunderbirds got them on the board early in the first period as Tomas Jurco’s wrist shot went through traffic and behind Michael McNiven, who made 38 saves in the Rocket’s victory. Cale Fleury responded for Joël Bouchard and the rest of his teammates less than two minutes later with his own power play goal, also while Springfield’s Samuel Montembeault was screened. This ended the first period tied at one.
Another powerplay goal gave the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead halfway through the second period and though Springfield had an opportunity to make it 3-1 during a five-on-three powerplay, the Rocket’s penalty killers kept their deficit to one. This allowed for Nikita Jevpalov’s late-period goal to tie the game at two, as his pass deflected off of a Springfield defender and behind Montembeault for his ninth of the season.
Byron Froese gave the Rocket their first lead of the game with another powerplay goal just 26 seconds into the third. Alexandre Alain deflected Alex Belzile’s shot, leaving Froese to tap it behind the goal line for his 13th of the year. A slap shot off a faceoff that beat McNiven with about five minutes left tied the game at three and sent to teams to overtime, where Xavier Ouellet scored on a wraparound to give the Rocket the victory with less than a minute remaining in the extra frame.
“We gave them a game plan and the guys executed it,” explained Bouchard after the game. “We put ourselves in a very good position to win the game, since [Springfield] is a very good hockey team offensively. We don’t see them often, so we made a precise plan. It’s never perfect as a coach, but it was very good.”
LAV: Fleury (Schlemko) | Jevpalovs (Vejdemo, Lamarche) | Froese (Alain, Belzile) | Ouellet (Waked, Vejdemo)
SPR: Jurco (Wideman, Marcinew) | Thompson (Jurco, Zolnierczyk) | Hunt (Zolnierczyk, Bystro,)
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (38/41) | SPR: Montembeault (30/24)
Rocket Powerplay: 2/5| Rocket Penalty Kill: 3/5
Three Stars: 1. Xavier Ouellet – LAV | 2. Tomas Jurco – SPR | 3. Byron Froese – LAV