LAVAL (October 20, 2018) – Though their offence dominated with 40 shots on goal, Joël Bouchard’s players couldn’t crack the American Hockey League affiliate of the Florida Panthers Saturday afternoon at Place Bell as they fell 4-2 to the Springfield Thunderbirds during the second of their backto-back games on military appreciation day.
Springfield took an early lead by picking up a rebound in the crease less than five minutes into the game and tapping it behind Michael McNiven, who got his second start of the season in net for Laval
on Saturday. The Thunderbirds kept the Rocket off the board for the rest of the period until Kenny Agostino took the puck from his defensive end, skated through a sandwich of Thunderbird defensemen, and roofed the puck under the crossbar for a highlight-reel worthy second goal of the season that acted as the equaliser with less than a minute left in the period.
A slap shot from the blue line that hit a body and deflected in front of the Laval net allowed the Thunderbirds to reclaim their lead early in the second period, but the dominant Rocket offense kept knocking at the door by sending 14 shots on Springfield’s goaltender and came so close to tying it that video review was needed to determine whether or not the puck fully crossed the line. Though they finished the second down by one, the shots favored the Rocket 23-11 by period’s end.
Sebastian Repo extended Springfield’s lead to two in the third period with a shot that beat McNiven up high, but the Rocket kept challenging the visiting netminder and added 17 shots to their total in the final frame. With McNiven on the bench for the extra attacker Agostino scored his second of the day, but a later empty-net goal restored the two-goal lead and secured the Thunderbird victory.
“I’m really proud of the guys. I’m proud of their effort,” explained Bouchard after the game. “It was probably our worst five minutes of the season to start the game, but the guys took matters into their own hands when we asked them to.”
LAV: Agostino (Kulak, Belzile) | Agostino (Kulak, Belzile)
SPR: Greco (Hawryluk, Borgstrom) | MacDonald (Repo, Bystrom) | Repo (Horton) | Lowry (Greco)
LAV: McNiven (12/15) | SPR: Driedger (38/40)
Rocket Powerplay : 1/4 | Rocket Penalty Kill : 3/4
Three Stars :
1. Chris Driedger – SPR | 2. Sebastian Repo – SPR | 3. Kenny Agostino – LAV