Finally, a long and strange season ended on perhaps the strangest possible note for the Laval Rocket. Carey Price started the first part of the match for Joël Bouchard’s club, while Brendan Gallagher was placed in the second row with Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jordan Weal. Both players were in the AHL during conditioning periods leading up to the Canadiens’ first-round game with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rocket were happy to provide Price with plenty of early action, as Alex Belzile was called in for tripping 59 seconds, putting Laval on a penalty. Rocket’s penalty killers fought two-thirds of Belzile’s miner before a tic-tac-toe pass landed on Bobby McMann’s stick who scored.
The Marlies doubled their lead on their next shot on goal. Jeremy McKenna created a turn-over behind the net for Laval and he found Stefan Noesen in front of the net, who put a backhand in front of Price.
The two 1:46 goals would be all the Marlies would get against Price, who made 13 saves in 40 minutes of work. Throughout the next 45 minutes of the game, the Rocket would get 39 shots on Michael Hutchinson, but he was unable to resolve the Marlies goalie.
Brendan Gallagher gave the Rocket a boost throughout the game, but the spark he provided was not enough to lift an overworked group of Laval forwards in the latter part of the season. . Gallagher had a four-minute high stick penalty and had two shots on goal. Rocket head coach Joel Bouchard estimated Gallagher had played around 17 minutes.
The Canadiens forward noted that he hadn’t left the ice for the last four minutes and joked that it was the most he had played since peeing. The team pulled Primeau and pushed to get back into the game.
Gallagher made room for Jordan Weal, who had eight shots on goal, the team’s top, as he tried to catch Ryan Poehling for the lead of Team Rocket. Jake Lucchini had five strokes, while Yannick Veilleux, Jesse Ylönen and Xavier Ouellet had four per piece.
Price was originally supposed to play 30 minutes in the game. However, circumstances saw him end the second period. He only faced a handful of shots when the first whistle after the 10-minute period arrived, and it was the icing on the cake. In the first commercial break, Cayden Primeau started to force his way onto the ice, but Laval had just taken a penalty and Price decided to stay for the remainder of the period.
Primeau played the third period and saved the two shots he faced.
After the game, Bouchard said he would stay with Daniel Jacob and work with the additional players who will be called up by the Montreal Canadiens for the playoffs. He expects around seven or eight players and they will skate every few days in case the NHL team needs them.
The Rocket finished their fourth season with a 23-9-4 record. Their 0.694 point percentage is good enough to place second in the AHL, behind the Hershey Bears at 0.758. Their 50 points are tied with Hershey, who has played three games less.
Gallagher brought in Josh Brook, who left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. Arsen Khisamutdinov took the warm-up, but was not dressed for the game.
The Marlies and Belleville Senators will end their season with two games, Wednesday and Thursday.