The Laval Rocket blew two two-goal leads and suffered a third consecutive defeat, with a score of 4-3 against the Utica Comets on Wednesday afternoon before 7,745 spectators at Place Bell.
For the Comets, Brian Halonen, a true poison against the Rockets this season, scored two goals and an assist, including the game-winner with 38.6 seconds left during a penalty on Lucas Condotta.
The Rocket dominated the first third after taking 19 shots, but couldn’t maintain the momentum. In the third period, the CH farm club received three of its five penalties of the afternoon and only scored three times.
Graeme Clarke (1-2) and Robbie Russo (0-3) also contributed to this victory for the visitors.
Santeri Hattaka also beat Jakub Dobes, who made 37 saves.
Emil Heineman, Brandon Gignac and Jan Mysak found the back of the net against Isaac Poulter, who faced 30 shots, including 19 in the first period, but only three in the third period.
On Friday and Saturday, the Rocket will host the Rochester Americans, another North section rival.
After the weekend’s games, the Rocket will withdraw, like the rest of the clubs on the circuit, to make way for the American League All-Star Classic, on February 4 and 5 in San Jose, California.
Subsequently, the Laval team will begin a sequence of five games abroad, beginning with two games in as many days in Toronto, on February 9 and 10.
The Rockets’ next home game will be February 21 against the Hershey Bears, by far the best team in the American League.
Good first, not so good second
After his players’ training on Wednesday morning, Jean-François Houle recalled Saturday’s match in Rochester and his team’s poor performance in the first half, after which they lost 4-1. It seems that his players have heard the message.
The Rocket exerted almost total dominance in the first twenty minutes, weakening only slightly during the last five minutes of play, but the Laval team had time to take a 2-0 lead.
By insisting Lias Andersson in front of Poulter’s goal, Heineman opened the scoring with his eighth of the season at 4:42.
About eight minutes later, Gignac scored his 13th in 2023-24, after a nice pass from Xavier Simoneau.
The Rocket had a great opportunity to increase their lead early in the second period during a power play, their second of the night.
As on the first occasion, the Laval team generated absolutely nothing. And suddenly, the tide turned to the point where the visitors, after 40 minutes of play, had caught up with the Rocket in terms of shots on goal, and almost on the scoreboard.
Even for nearly eight minutes in the first half of the half, the Comets directed 13 straight shots at the Dobes.
The latter was generally solid during this sequence, except against Hattaka.
At 4:41, or 11 seconds after leaving the box, the Comets defenseman beat the Dobes with a glove shot that the Rockets goalie would no doubt have liked to see again.
Mysak gave the Rocket a two-goal lead again at 11:27 when his attempted pass to the front of the net was off Topias Vilen before he caught Poulter.
Mysak’s goal was his tenth of the season.
Clarke, however, brought the Comets within one goal of the Rocket thanks to a single shot that gave Dobes no chance with just over four minutes left in the period.
Clarke then contributed to the Comets’ tying goal, scored by Halonen with another goal just 93 seconds into the third period and 24 seconds into a William Trudeau penalty kick.
Halonen had not said his last word.