The celebrations of the home-opener weekend for the Laval Rocket were muted as the Cleveland Monsters spoiled the party by taking both games at Place Bell. Cleveland squeaked out a 3-2 victory in Friday’s launch then was victorious 4-1 in Saturday’s matinee. The joint was jumping as a loud; towel waving crowd of 9,075 Rocket faithful welcomed the 2019-2020 edition of the team. Alex Belzile sent them into a frenzy as he notched his first of the season a mere 23 seconds from the opening face-off. Cleveland knotted the score at the halfway point of the opening period, a score that stood through a scoreless second frame of fast-paced back and forth action. Charles Hudon returned the lead to Laval at 8:51 of the third on a powerplay tally of a tic-tac-toe play of Xavier Ouellet to Belzile to Hudon who blasted the shot past Monster netminder Matiss Kivlenieks. Cleveland replied just over two minutes later as Adam Clendening popped the equalizer on an odd-man rush. With time winding down and overtime looking probable, Trey Fix-Wolansky provided the margin of victory on another Monsters’ odd-man rush. Belzile and Hudon were selected as first and second stars, respectively “It wasn’t a great game,” said head coach Joël Bouchard. “Do I think the guys cared? Yes. They know it wasn’t good enough. We are going to get better.” There were no signs of game two coming on the heels of a 17 hour turnaround as both squads showed plenty of jump in their game much to the delight of the 5,503 on hand at Place Bell. Laval and Cleveland battled through a scoreless first but the Monsters potted a pair in the middle frame on Rocket rookie goalie Cayden Primeau, who was making his AHL debut. Primeau made an impressive 29 saves on 31 shots in his debut. That score stood until the midway mark of the third as Belzile authored an unassisted shorthanded goal to make it a 2-1 contest. Laval lifted Primeau in favour of the extra-attacker as they pressed for the tying tally. That afforded Cleveland the opportunity to pull away on two empty-netters. “We understand that we need team chemistry,” Bouchard said. “ And adversity is sometimes the best team chemistry. We’ll go through it together. It’s our job to work together.” The Rocket will hit the road to take on the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday night and the Rockford Ice Hogs on Monday.

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