LAVAL (April 6, 2019) – With a crowd of 8,643 fans cheering them on during the Fan Appreciation game at Place Bell on Saturday afternoon, the Laval Rocket convincingly took down the sixth place overall Hershey Bears by a score of 5-2 with four of those goals coming in the third period. Nine different Rocket players picked up at least a point in the game, while goaltender Connor LaCouvee made 27 saves in the victory.
Though they were outshot 7-6 in the opening frame, the Rocket played a physical first period and competed with a very strong Hershey lineup for the entire 20 minutes. Philippe Hudon had the best scoring chance for the Rocket seven minutes into the game as he found himself alone in the slot with Hershey netminder Ilya Samsonov out of position, but he recovered just enough to prevent Hudon’s wrist shot from going in the net. The two teams remained tied 0-0 after one.
Hayden Verbeek brought the fans to their feet halfway through the second period by sniping his fourth of the season past Samsonov to give the Rocket a 1-0 lead, and Nikita Jevpalovs impressed those in attendance by showing off his hands on multiple occasions in the period as well. LaCouvee turned away all 9 of Hershey’s shots in the second, sending the Rocket into the third period with a one-goal lead.
Joël Bouchard’s troops exploded with four goals in the third period, which was enough to offset the Bears’ two goals in the period as well. Thomas Ebbing gave the Rocket a 2-0 lead just 2:41 into the final period of play at Place Bell this season while Alex Belzile and Xavier Ouellet made it 4-0 before seven minutes had even been played in the period. The next two goals belonged to Steve Whitney and Maximilian Kammerer of Hershey, but Michael Pezzetta secured the victory for the Rocket by scoring Laval’s fifth and final goal with four minutes left to play.
“I just want to take a minute to thank the fans,” said Bouchard during an on-ice interview after the game. “Today and all season you were with our players and we all had a good game. You guys are part of the team, so thank you.”
LaCouvee shared a similar sentiment in the dressing room. “[The fans] supported us throughout the whole year, even when the results haven’t been as steady as we would have liked them to. They showed us very strong support throughout the season.”
LAV: Verbeek (Hudon) | Ebbing (Adams-Moisan) | Belzile (Jevpalovs, Lamarche) | Ouellet (Verbeek, Pezzetta) | Pezzetta
HER: Whitney (Megna, Sproul) | Kammerer (Sproul)
Goaltenders: LAV: LaCouvee (27/29) | HER: Samsonov (26/31)
Rocket Powerplay: 0/0|Rocket Penalty Kill: 3/3
Three Stars: 1. Nikita Jevpalovs – LAV | 2. Maxim Lamarche – LAV | 3. Philippe Hudon – LAV