THE ROCKET HOLD OFF THE CLEVELAND MONSTERS TO EXTEND WIN STREAK TO FIVE WITH A 2-1 VICTORY
CLEVELAND (November 8, 2019) – The Rocket began a short, two-game road trip against the Cleveland Monsters Friday night. In their first matchup, the Rocket avenged their first two losses of the season against the Monsters with a 2-1 win at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse arena. Rookie defenseman Josh Brook scored the game-winning goal and netminder Cayden Primeau made several key saves to lead the visitors to victory. The Rocket are currently in a four-way tie for first place in the North Division.
The two rivals were riding hot streaks heading into Friday’s tilt. The Rocket were looking to capture their fifth consecutive victory – a record for the young franchise – while the Monsters were looking for their sixth win in a row.
The Rocket dictated the play in the first period, earning most of the scoring chances. The visitors were unable to capitalize on their opportunities and faced a strong netminder in Elvis Merzlikins. The latter made his American Hockey League debut after playing four games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and stole the show in the first period. His seven saves, including a spectacular glove save on Lukas Vejdemo and another one on Charles Hudon seconds into the game, were the main highlights in an otherwise scoreless opening frame.
Early in the second period, Alexandre Alain broke the ice for the Rocket as he logged his third goal of the season. The Quebec native found himself on a breakaway down low and defeated Merzlikins with a backhand shot after tricking the netminder with a brilliant deke. Xavier Ouellet and Lukas Vejdemo earned helpers on the goal. With a primary assist, Vejdemo notched his seventh point in 14 games and is tied for second in team scoring with Charles Hudon. The Monsters tied the game near the end of the second frame when Paul Bittner beat Cayden Primeau with a slapshot from outside the left faceoff circle.
Cleveland was caught with too many men on the ice and opened the door for the Rocket to score the eventual game-winning goal midway through the third period. Seconds after killing the penalty, Josh Brook restored Laval’s lead with a shot from the blue line to beat Merzlikins who was out of balance. With his second tally of the season, the rookie defenseman is tied with Ouellet in goals among team defensemen.
“As a coach, you’re always looking for the perfect game, but [the first two periods were] good. I think we had a lot of scoring chances. The goaltender on the other end of the ice was extraordinary on a few occasions. We challenged the guys after the second period. […] We played a great third period. Aside from the goal we scored, the guys were focused on getting the details right,” said head coach Joël Bouchard.
With their fifth consecutive victory, the Rocket’s penalty remained perfect. Primeau earned his fifth win of the season and made 24 saves.
LAV: Alain (Vejdemo, Ouellet) | Brook
CLE: Bittner (Thurkauf, Peeke)
Unités spéciales/Special teams
LAV | AN/PP: (0/2) | IN/PK: (2/2)
CLE | AN/PP: (0/4) | IN/PK: (4/4)
LAV: Primeau (24/25) CLE: Merzlikins (28/30)
Trois étoiles/Three stars
1. Brook – LAV 2. Alain – LAV 3. Bittner – CLE