(Toronto) In the wake of a 6-1 thrashing by the Toronto Marlies the day before and in the relentless struggle for playoff positions, Laval Rocket sent an unmistakable message to its competitors on Saturday.
Players Xavier Simoneau and Nathan Légaré both bagged doubles, Logan Mailloux scored a goal and assisted two others, leading the Rocket to triumph over the Marlies with a 7-1 scoreline.
“This demonstrates our resilience,” commented Légaré post-game. “We were not pleased with our Friday performance. I believe we displayed great maturity.”
“I’m quite satisfied with the effort,” Head Coach Jean-François Houle added. “I think we showed that we can handle adversity. Yesterday wasn’t an easy game, but we reacted.”
Filip Cederqvist and Jan Mysak also scored for the Rocket. Kasimir Kaskisuo made 28 saves against his former team, landing a fifth win in six starts with the Montreal Canadien’s affiliate team.
The solitary goal for the Marlies was scored by Roni Hirvonen. Called into relief in the second period, Dennis Hildeby blocked 11 shots.
This victory helped Rocket to maintain their position in the tight fight in the North section, with currently only three points separating five teams.
Having lost five of their prior six games before this one, the Rocket now trail the third-placed Marlies by only two points. This fight also involves the Rochester Americans, the Utica Comets, and the Belleville Senators.
“The guys are having fun,” Légaré added. “I didn’t get the opportunity to battle for the playoffs last year, but I know it was done here. We want to fight till the end.”
After enjoying a few days off, the Rocket will face a grueling weekend ahead. They are set to play three matches in 44 hours starting Friday, visiting the Hartford Wolf Pack, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Bridgeport Islanders.
“The ranking is quite tight and every match is important,” Houle stated. “When you go on the road, if you can play for .500, you stand a chance.”
Houle’s team had tested the waters, going into the game robustly. They retreated to the locker room with a 3-0 lead post 20 minutes of play.
Joshua Roy was initially supposed to participate in the match, but he got called up by the Canadiens. Cederqvist replaced him in the lineup.
The Swede ensured his presence was felt in the game, scoring the first goal at 8:22 of the first period. After Keith Petruzzelli’s miraculous stop against Tobie Paquette-Bisson, Cederqvist rebounded breaking the blank score.
“[Cederqvist] dressed up two minutes before the pre-game meeting, joked Paquette-Bisson. We told him he would come out strong, and indeed he had a good game.”
Next, Simoneau increased the visitor’s lead 49 seconds later during a power play with Kyle Clifford on the penalty bench. Mysak then recorded his 11th-goal of the season with 1:51 remaining in the first third.
Despite his spectacular save, Petruzzelli was replaced by Hildeby at the beginning of the second period after allowing three goals from 12 shots.
Légaré could have extended his team’s lead towards the end of the first game, but his shot during a two-on-one descent missed the target with a few seconds remaining. He redeemed himself in the second, deflecting a shot from Olivier Galipeau.
Simoneau took the score to 5-0, managing to sneak the puck past Hildeby, not without having to pay the cost right in front of the goalie. Mailloux added one more just 1:13 later with an accurate shot whilst he was supporting the attack.
Hirvonen brought down the margin with just over two minutes left in the second rink. It was a first goal in eight American League games for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Finnish recruit.
Légaré added an insurance goal with 6:52 left in the third, his fourth short-handed goal this season.
“It feels good to be a part of the team’s success. It’s quite fun to score in a win, and we are quite satisfied with the outcome,” Légaré commented.
In this match, Houle had to manage his defensive team members as Mattias Norlinder and Justin Barron had to leave the match due to injuries. However, Barron returned to play in the third.