THE LAVAL ROCKET DROP HOME OPENER AGAINST THE MONSTERS 3-2
LAVAL (October 4, 2019) – In front of a raucous crowd of 9 075 at Place Bell, the Laval Rocket opened their 2019-20 season with a 3-2 loss that featured exciting, fast-paced hockey against the Cleveland Monsters Friday night.
To kickstart the season, the Rocket welcomed back their fans with an impressive pre-game ceremony that featured pyrotechnics, drummers and a montage introducing the 2019-20 edition of the team. It didn’t take long for fans to start waving their Rocket branded towels when Alex Belzile found the back of the net 23 seconds into the game, assisted by Jake Evans. However, the Monsters tied the game halfway through the period when Andrew Peeke sent a cross-crease pass to Calvin Thurkauf who scored in a wide-open net. The Rocket followed up with a couple of scoring chances on their first powerplay opportunity of the game and a solid three-on-one chance led by Charles Hudon, but they were unable to solve netminder Matiss Kivlenieks. The Rocket fell into some penalty trouble, taking three in the opening frame alone but were able to stave off the Monster and end the period tied at one-a-piece.
In the second period, the Monsters upped the tempo, testing the Rocket’s defense. Nathan Gerbe had a breakaway chance but netminder Charlie Lindgren, who made several clutch saves in the second stanza, shut the door. The Rocket responded with a few chances of their own, including a golden opportunity created by the team’s third line. Phil Varone sent a crisp pass through the slot to Nikita Jevpalovs but Kivlenieks stood tall. After 40 minutes of play, the game remained tied as the Rocket outshot their opponents 22-15.
The Rocket’s consistent pressure on the powerplay paid off near the halfway mark of the third period, Charles Hudon sent a one-timer past Kivlenieks on a beautiful set play on the powerplay to give the Rocket the lead. The Monsters responded seconds later as Adam Clendening capitalized on an odd-man rush. The game seemed like it would require extra-time as both teams displayed fast-paced hockey, but the Monsters got the last laugh as Trey Fix-Wolansky took advantage of another odd-man rush to seal the deal for Cleveland. The Rocket and Monsters will clash once more Saturday afternoon at Place Bell. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m.
“It wasn’t a great game. Do I think the guy cared? Yes. They know it wasn’t good enough. We are going to get better,” said head coach Joël Bouchard.
LAV: Belzile (Evans) | Hudon (Belzile, Ouellet)
CLE: Thurkauf (Peeke) | Clendening (Scott, Robinson) |Trey Fix-Wolansky (Dano, Kivlenieks)
Goaltenders: LAV: Lindgren (20 / 23) | CLE: Kivlenieks (27 / 29)
Three stars: Alex Belzile – LAV | 2. Adam Clendening – CLE | 3. Charles Hudon – LAV