CLEVELAND (March 1, 2019) – The day after an emotional, come from behind victory, the Laval Rocket once again took on the Cleveland Monsters Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena and despite a collective effort and a solid performance from Michael McNiven, the Rocket’s players fell by a score of 4-1. The Rocket were in the game until the very end, when the Monsters put the game out of reach with two empty-net goals while the Rocket had six players on the ice in attempt to force overtime.
The Rocket players were aggressive and played hard from the get-go, and the visitors had the majority of the scoring chances in the first period. Their strong play forced Cleveland netminder Brad Thiessen to make multiple big saves, with his most notable one coming against Rocket defenseman Brett Lernout. Despite the solid and efficient play in all three zones from the Rocket, the Monsters would get on the board before period’s end. Zac Dalpe deflected a shot from Adam Clendening in the slot that beat McNiven while the Rocket were short a man due to a hooking penalty in the final five minutes of the period, making the score 1-0 after one.
The Rocket kept knocking at Thiessen’s door in the second period and a two-man advantage mounted the pressure against the Monsters, though it didn’t result in a goal. The home team largely dominated the second period but McNiven was strong in goal for the Rocket, keeping his team in the game. McNiven made a spectacular glove save on Dalpe in the period and another one on Brett Gallant shortly after, which gave Joël Bouchard’s players the momentum they needed to tie the game halfway through the period. The Rocket benefitted from a generous bounce off the boards when Lernout dumped the puck while on the penalty kill, and Jake Evans took advantage of the puck landing on his stick to score his second goal in as many games. McNiven continued his excellent play in goal to finish the second frame, and turned away a total of 19 shots in the period.
Cleveland set the tone in the third period with a goal in the first minute of play. The Rocket were on a penalty kill when Mark Letestu reclaimed the lead for the Monsters, with the assists going to Paul Bittner and Dan Desalvo. Much like the night before however, the Rocket never game up. Bouchard’s players dominated the third period 12-8 in shots but the equalizing goal never came, and Cleveland took advantage of the Rocket’s empty net in the end of the period to add two goals to the scoreboard. The rivalry between the two teams was felt the whole night with big hits being thrown all night, and the teams will face one another again at the end of the season during a battle at Place Bell. The Rocket will be back in action on Wednesday when they host the Toronto Marlies.
LAV: Evans (Lernout)
CLE: Daple (Clendening) | Letestu (Bittner, DeSalvo) | Scott (Dalpe, Letestu) | Dalpe
Goaltenders: LAV: McNiven (27/29) | CLE: Thiessen (22/23)
Rocket Powerplay: 0/2 | Rocket Penalty Kill: 2/3
Three Stars: 1. Zac Dalpe – CLE | 2. Mark Letestu – CLE | 3. Brad Thiessen – CLE