The Belleville Senators started 2019 with a 4-2 defeat to the Laval Rocket Wednesday night in Quebec.
Belleville’s Filip Gustavsson made 22 saves while Gabriel Gagne scored twice. Connor LaCouvee stopped 18 shots while their goals came from Byron Froese, Alex Belzile, Antoine Waked and Alex Grenier.
The hosts struck first at the 9:39 mark through captain Froese on a 5-on-3 power play, with Boston Leier and Stuart Percy in the box, the Laval captain wired a one-timer past Gustavsson from the high-slot for his 11th goal of the year.
Laval struck again on the power play at 15:33 as Alex Belzile let a one-timer fly from the edge of the left faceoff circle off Froese’s pass as he made it 2-0 for the hosts on his sixth of the season.
The Rocket lead was 3-0 at 11:06 of the second as Hayden Verbeek forced a turnover behind the Belleville net before centering to Waked who buried his first of the year on what was Verbeek’s first AHL point.
The Senators got on the board in the final four minutes of the period as Laval native Gagne took a pass from Paul Carey at the right faceoff dot before wiring his third past LaCouvee up high to get Belleville on the board.
Gagne had his second of the night 7:34 into the final period as he was the benefactor of Francois Beauchemin’s outstanding backhand centering pass that found Gagne at the back post as he had his stick on the ice to bury the puck.
However, Laval would put the game away with 1:38 left as after Lukas Vejdemo forced a turnover on Drake Batherson at centre ice, he fed Grenier who beat Gustavsson with a nice backhand move to secure the two points.