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Rocket Overcome Two-Goal Deficit and Defeat Thunderbirds 3-2 in Overtime

March 23, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Laval Rocket News Release

With both teams having played the night before, the play in the first period was a little disjointed and as a result eight minor penalties were distributed by the referees in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Rocket's penalty kill contained the Thunderbirds until two consecutive delay of game penalties against Laval gave the home team the opportunity to get on the board first. After two big saves from Michael McNiven on Quebec forward Jean-Sébastien Dea, Thunderbird defenseman Julian Melchiori was able to beat McNiven with a low shot. Despite this, McNiven was able to bounce back with a nice breakaway save on Jonathan Ang after a neutral zone interception shortly thereafter, and the first period ended 1-0 in favour of Springfield with the shot board favouring them 8-7 as well.

The Thunderbirds set the pace of the second period by scoring a quick goal on a two-on-one that allowed Dea to net his 12th of the season top corner against McNiven, but the Rocket refused to give up. Their perseverance allowed Nikita Jevpalovs to completely deke out two Springfield players before beating Springfield netminder Alex Sakellaropoulos with an NHL-quality shot. The Latvian's 11th of the season came while the Rocket were shorthanded, and Bouchard's players once again proved that they would never accept defeat. As a result, in the final seconds of the period, a brilliant play from Alex Belzile paved the way for Cale Fleury's 9th of the season, bringing the teams to a 2-2 tie with 20 minutes left to play.

Despite good scoring chances for both teams, neither was able to break the tie in the third period and the Rocket headed to overtime for the fifth consecutive game. Right at the beginning of the extra frame, McNiven made a great save on Springfield's Anthony Grecco. Then, with only 26 seconds having gone by in the period, Ouellet netted the game-winner and completed his team's comeback. The Laval defenseman picked up the puck behind his own net and went from end-to-end before lifting the puck over Sakellaropoulous' right shoulder.

"I'm so proud of them," said Bouchard after the game. "Being down 2-0 to a team like Springfield who is fast and who has experience and being able to come back [...] It's a group who never gives up and I'm really proud of them. They're going for a buy-in."

Goalscorers :

LAV: Jevpalovs (Ouellet)|Fleury (Belzile, Evans) | Ouellet (Vejdemo)

SPR: Melchiori (Zolnierczyk, Dea)|Dea (Lammikko, Bystrom)

Goaltenders :

LAV: McNiven (26/28) | SPR: Sakellaropoulos (30/32)

Rocket Powerplay : 0/6|Rocket Penalty Kill : 5/6

Three Stars :

Xavier Ouellet - LAV | 2. Jean-Sébastien Dea - SPR | 3. Julian Melchiori - SPR

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American Hockey League Stories from March 23, 2019

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