The P.E.I. Rocket didn’t get many shots in the third period, but made the ones they took count.
The Rocket scored three goals on seven shots in the third to break a 2-2 tie and beat the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 5-3 Sunday in front of the largest crowd of the season at the Civic Centre. The team had five straight road games since playing in Charlottetown on Feb. 24.
“It was a tough game. Everybody was trying to give their best because we were a little bit tired from our road trips,” said rookie Alexis Pépin. “We needed those two big points for home-ice advantage and we got them.”
Deverick Ottereyes found Yan Pavel Laplante 30 seconds into the third period and the second-year centre gave his team the lead.
“It changed the momentum in our way and we never looked back,” winger Louick Marcotte said.
Matej Beran scored the eventual game-winning goal three minutes later off a rebound on the power play.
The victory improves the Rocket to 38-23-3-1. P.E.I. is in seventh place with three games remaining. Entering the final week of the season, the Rocket is three points back of Moncton and Quebec, who are tied for fifth place, and two points up on eighth-place Rouyn-Noranda.
The top 16 teams make the playoffs with the top eight earning home-ice advantage.
“Every game at this part of the season is important so it’s a big two points for us,” Laplante said.
He has five goals in 15 games after missing most of the season with a shoulder injury. He had six goals in 57 games in his rookie campaign and is eligible for this year’s NHL draft.
“I’m not thinking about the scouts and everything, I’m just playing my game,” Laplante said.
Pépin had a memorable shift in the second period. He was unable to capitalize on two glorious scoring chances and then recorded his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League fight.
“It was frustrating for me to miss those opportunities and then I got hit from behind,” Pépin explained. “I try to stand up for myself and fought that guy.”
Anthony Gingras received the checking-from-behind penalty while Pépin dropped the mitts with Alexandre Gosselin.
“I just picked the first one I saw,” the rookie admitted.
There were 3,664 fans in the building Sunday, topping the previous mark of 3,037 set on Islander Day. Sunday was the last ticket redemption game of the regular season.
The Rocket will play members of the RCMP L Division tonight in the Make-A-Wish Foundation benefit game. The game takes place at the Civic Centre starting at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $5.
The Fans’ Choice Awards voting is open until 5 p.m. on Thursday.
The votes can be cast online at www.peirocket.
Josh Currie and Ben Duffy remained tied atop the league’s scoring race.
They have 101 points, three points ahead of Halifax’s Jonathan Drouin.
u Score - Rocket 5, Titan 3
u Goal Scorers - Rocket: Matej Beran, Yan Pavel Laplante, Alex Micallef, Ben Duffy and Louick Marcotte; Titan: Sean Girard, Robert Pelletier and Raphael Lafontaine
u Assists - Rocket: Jimmy Oligny (2) Deverick Ottereyes, Marcotte, Josh Currie, Victor Provencher, Beran and Laplante; Titan: Marc-Olivier Brouillard (2), Andrew Meredith and Michael Beaudry.
u Goaltenders - Rocket: Antoine Bibeau, 32 saves on 35 shots; Titan: Jacob Brennan, 25 saves on 29 shots
u Three Stars - 1. Yan Pavel Laplante, 2. Louick Marcotte,
3. Alex Micallef
u Records – Rocket: 38-23-3-1; Titan: 25-33-5-2.
u Up Next – The Rocket hosts Moncton Tuesday at 7 p.m.