On Thursday night, the Laval Rocket saw their six-game winning streak come to an abrupt end against the Manitoba Moose. The Rocket was heading into the final moments of the game when the Moose scored twice with the extra forward to force overtime. They then stole a second point as Nathan Todd scored the only goal of the shootout and left Laval stunned in Winnipeg.
The loss wasn’t the only bad news the Rocket faced either, Lukas Vejdemo and Alex Belzile were ruled out of the remaining games against the Moose and would undergo further examination afterwards to determine the severity of their injuries. While the top six have remained the same, the last six saw Arsen Khisamutdinov and Liam Hawel return, while defensive pairs have remained the same. Cayden Primeau got the nod into the net after Michael McNiven started the night before.
After struggling to push the Moose early on Thursday, the Rocket got off to a quick start, very similar to his victories over Stockton. A long pass from Jake Lucchini went to Ryan Poehling, creating an odd rushing situation. Poehling threw a header into the net and Joel Teasdale directed it through Mikhail Berdin for Rocket’s header just under three minutes into the game.
It looked like the Moose had equalized minutes later as a pinball shot almost crossed the goal line. Primeau dove for the loose puck, barely keeping it out of the way as the official stood just over the goal to make sure.
It was the best chance Manitoba had in the first period as the Rocket slowly moved their feet and put pressure on the Moose before the first intermission.
It was the Rocket pushing early in the second period, but a very close appeal against Hawel put the brakes on as Laval had to kill his first penalty of the night. The Moose power play was a lot like the Rocket’s, as even on the penalty kill, the Rocket kept the puck in the Manitoba end. Without too much problem, Laval returned to the game with a lead that was still intact.
The Rocket gave up a breakaway almost immediately after Bobby Lynch slipped behind Laval defenders. The Moose forward barged in at Cayden Primeau, but the Rocket goalie was more than up to the task, sealing the ice and giving Lynch nothing but a cushion to shoot at.
Then Laval did what he did best, just going around the area, testing Mikhail Berdin with a number of chances from all angles. The Russian goalkeeper gave nothing for the Rocket. The only time Laval was really in danger was because of puck icing, twice it almost cost them a goal. With the Rocket’s weary skaters on the ice, the Moose pushed relentlessly to try and find the back of the net, but a rebellious Primeau made some big saves to keep the Rocket ahead.
Laval appeared to have escaped the period unscathed, but a late call to Michael Pezzetta put the Rocket on the penalty kill for the final 20 seconds of the period. They managed to handle this with ease, but faced a 1:40 of a power play from Moose to start the third period.
Nathan Todd almost equaled almost immediately on the man’s shortened advantage, sounding a powerful shot over the crossbar behind Primeau, but luckily for the Rocket, he bounced off the post and away from the net. While the Rocket killed the penalty, the Moose continued to pressure the Laval defense, not allowing them to generate any escape from their own zone.
It looked like the Moose were ready to score anytime, but with their first bit of pressure in the period, the Rocket drew a very sticky call, giving them their second power play of the night. It only lasted six seconds as Jordan Weal immediately took a crosscheck penalty and pushed the game to four on four.
The defensive stalemate continued, even with the extra space on the ice, and the four-on-four’s best chance went to the Moose, but Brandon Baddock’s leg kept them from sweeping him into the open net.
Berdin left his net with just under two minutes left after the puck was out of play and the Manitoba bench called for a time out. Laval nearly scored into the empty net, but Joseph Blandisi was denied as he walked into the net on his forehand. The Moose then attacked straight onto the ice and Dylan Samberg hit another shot from the post behind Primeau, and the ensuing rebound was muffled by Rocket defenders. A final clear and set-top job from Joel Teasdale helped close the game as the Rocket gave the Moose their first shutout of the season.
The two teams have a day off on Saturday, but will meet again on Sunday afternoon for their third of four games.
- Cayden Primeau (Win, 19 Saves, Shutout)
- Joël Teasdale (1 G)
- Mikhail Berdin (18 stops)