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Laval ends homestand on tough loss to Utica

The Laval Rocket closed out a three game homestand with a tough 5-4 loss to the Utica Comets Saturday afternoon, giving the Rocket one win in three games on their home ice. “It was definitely a hard month, emotionally, physically for everybody,” Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard said. “We’ll see how we do in the next three weeks, I am giving ourselves three weeks to step up and climb.” The Comet loss also cost the Rocket an opportunity to move ahead of Utica in the North Division standings It was more of the same for Laval as the team deserved better for the effort they put in during the week of play. Following a 2-1 win over the Belleville Senators on Wednesday evening, Laval dropped another one-goal loss on Friday night to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms with the visitors taking a 3-2 decision in overtime. “It seems like we’re saying that a little bit too often now,” second star Michael McCarron said. “It’s frustrating, it’s the little things in the game, whether it’s getting the puck out of our zone, or making blind passes to the middle of the ice or taking dumb penalties. It’s those little things in pro hockey that come back to bite you in the butt.” The loss to the Comets came on the strength of a pair of third period goals by Utica, including a cheapie that pinballed off of Comet and Rocket players before finding its’ way past Charlie Lindgren. The Rocket netminder turned in a stellar performance that belies the five goals notched by the visitors and Michael McCarron and Alex Belzile were bright spots in the loss. McCarron had a hand in all four Rocket tallies with a quartet of assists and Belzile was good for a goal and an assist. It was Belzile’s opening goal 1:31 into the second frame that was a highlight of the night as it brought a downpour of 3,282 stuffed animals to the ice from the 6,415 fans in attendance during the second annual Rocket Teddy Bear Toss. The team worked in conjunction with the Service de police de la Ville de Laval to help put smiles on the faces of less-fortunate children this Christmas. The collected teddy bears will be handed out to Fondation Cité de la santé, Centre de femmes de Laval, Le relais communautaire Pont Viau, La maison de Lina, Centre jeunesse de Laval, Centre communautaire Petit Espoir, Centre communautaire Val-Martin, Maison de la famille, Entraide Pont-Viau et Laval-des-Rapides as well as several others. Ryan Culkin, Hunter Shinkaruk and Victor Mete, recently sent down to the team, scored his first ever AHL goal. Mete made it a one goal game, but Laval could not get the equalizer before time ran out. The team has time to prepare as they aren’t back in action until Friday night in Belleville to face the Sens, followed by a Saturday contest in Toronto against the Marlies. “Theyneed to be rested before I push them back,” coach Bouchard said. “We have a lot of guys who are underperforming. I think they need to step back too, they’re not bad guys but step back at the beginning of the week and then push to see if we can take this to another level.”

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