The Laval Rocket clinched third place in the North Division after defeating the Syracuse Crunch Saturday night.
The start of the game saw both teams get opportunities without capitalizing. Rocket forward Nate Schnarr got the first quality chance of the period when he used the defender as a screen but could not get the puck past Syracuse netminder Hugo Alnefelt.
The Crunch started sending bodies toward Kevin Poulin’s crease and it led to a goal by Gage Goncalves as he recovered the puck off a rebound to score. Laval countered a few minutes later when Schnarr tied the game on a rush assisted by Brandon Gignac.
Laval played with more energy and aggressiveness after the goal and it led to multiple mistakes from the Crunch including a penalty they took for having too many skaters on the ice. The Rocket created multiple chances but could not finish. Jesse Ylonen and Jea-Sebastien Dea had the best opportunities on the man advantage.
Syracuse took another penalty late in the first period and this time Laval capitalized on it. They moved the puck around quickly and efficiently which led to a tip-in goal by Cedric Paquette after a great pass from Rafael-Harvey Pinard to take the first lead of the game.
The Rocket continued to control play in the second period and saw the Bourque-Schnarr-Teasdale line dominate as they have recently done by transitioning the puck and entering the Crunche’s zone with ease. Syracuse forward Anthony Richard later separated himself from everyone and went on a breakaway only to see his shot stopped by Kevin Poulin as did Daniel Walcott on the rebound.
Paquette later scored his second of the game and ninth of the season when he redirected a shot from Gignac. The play was reviewed but was called a good goal even though it looked like Paquette had kicked it in.
Joel Teasdale made it 4-1 Laval with his 15th goal of the season on an odd-man rush with Schnarr midway through the second, He’s been vital to Laval’s success lately and has scored 14 points in his last 13 games including two versus Syracuse.
Nothing changed in the third period as Laval continued to control the game. Corey Schueneman finally got compensated for his great performance with his fourth goal of the season following a sharp give-an-go with Dea at the Syracuse blueline.
The rest of the period saw rushes from both sides but neither could add to the scoreboard. Poulin picked up the win and ended the season 8-3-2 with a 2.34 GAA and .920 save percentage. He’s certainly made a strong case to be the starter when Laval opens the AHL playoffs on May 6 in Syracuse.
Head coach Jean-Francois Houle said he liked the way the Rocket played and is happy to finish in third place in the division. He mentioned that it will be key to get secondary scoring as they head into the playoffs and to continue to play the way they have as of late. He adds that the team will get a couple of rest and practice days as they prepare for the playoffs. Houle did not have an update on Rocket defenseman Louis Belpedio who left midway through the game and never returned. It was reported that he left the rink via ambulance.