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After a hard-fought series against Syracuse, Laval came out at their best against Rochester and they were able to pick up the sweep as they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on Springfield.

The Series That Was

May 22: Rocket 6, Americans 1 – After a very tight checking series, there was some hope that Laval would have a bit more room to operate offensively.  At least one player did as Danick Martel had himself quite a night, scoring four times, beating starter Aaron Dell three times and replacement Michael Houser once.  Cayden Primeau was quite sharp in this one, especially in the early going to allow the Rocket to find their skating legs and pull away with the easy victory.

May 23: Rocket 3, Americans 1 – One day later, Dell was much sharper and Laval’s attack was held more in check.  This time, they got their offence from some secondary contributors in Brandon Gignac and Lucas Condotta while Louie Belpedio chipped in from the back end as well.  None of those players are known for their offensive abilities but it was enough production with Primeau putting up his second straight 31-save performance.

May 25: Rocket 6, Americans 5 (3OT) – Rochester struck early, scoring twice on their first three shots which provided a different script than the first two games.  Laval bounced back in the second with four goals in less than four minutes to put them in great shape heading to the third.  However, the Americans scored twice in the first two minutes to tie it, then took the lead before the midway mark.  But a slashing call to Brett Murray (who had the go-ahead goal) with two minutes left gave the Rocket a late power play and Jesse Ylonen picked a great time for his first of the series to tie it with just over a minute to go.  That was it for scoring until the third overtime when a puck over glass penalty gave Laval the man advantage and they took advantage as former Amerk Jean-Sebastien Dea fired home the winner.



# Player GP G A +/- SOG PIMS
4 Tobie Paquette-Bisson 3 0 1 +2 4 0
5 Tory Dello 3 0 1 E 4 0
6 Corey Schueneman 3 0 1 +5 5 0
7 Louie Belpedio 3 1 2 +4 11 2
10 Jean-Sebastien Dea 3 2 1 E 7 2
11 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 3 0 1 E 8 2
13 Cedric Paquette 3 1 2 +1 6 2
14 Sami Niku 3 0 3 +1 3 6
18 Danick Martel 3 5 0 +4 21 2
20 Gabriel Bourque 3 0 2 +1 2 2
22 Alex Belzile 3 0 2 +2 8 2
24 Joel Teasdale 3 0 1 E 4 2
26 Jesse Ylonen 3 1 1 -1 8 0
28 Lucas Condotta 2 1 0 +2 4 0
29 Mattias Norlinder 1 0 1 +1 4 0
37 Brandon Gignac 3 2 1 +4 11 2
38 Nate Schnarr 3 1 2 +3 4 0
43 Xavier Ouellet 3 1 1 -2 12 8
48 Peter Abbandonato 3 0 3 +4 4 2


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
31 Cayden Primeau 3-0-0 1.90 .932 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Danick Martel (6)
Assists: Sami Niku (8)
Points: Martel/Niku (8)
+/-: Louis Belpedio (+7)
PIMS: Martel/Niku/Ouellet (8)
Shots: Danick Martel (32)

News And Notes

– Danick Martel’s four-goal game in the series opener was the first four-goal playoff game in a little more than nine years.  It was also a franchise record.

– It wasn’t all good news in Game 1, however, as Mattias Norlinder took a hit to the head in the dying seconds, a hit that resulted in Ben Holmstrom missing the final two games of the series plus the first game of next season.  While Gianni Fairbrother has been cleared to return, Jean-Francois Houle opted to go back to a standard 12/6 roster after with Lucas Condotta rejoining the lineup.

– Riley Kidney was officially signed to a tryout deal, allowing him to join the Rocket for the playoffs although it would be surprising to see him play.  Meanwhile, Emil Heineman’s AHL debut will have to wait as he has returned to Sweden as he has not been cleared to return from his upper-body injury.

Last Game’s Lines:

Harvey-Pinard – Dea – Ylonen
Gignac – Paquette – Belzile
Bourque – Abbandonato – Martel
Condotta – Schnarr – Teasdale

Ouellet – Belpedio
Niku – Dello
Schueneman – Paquette-Bisson

The Series Ahead

Both teams will have lengthy breaks with the Eastern Conference Final against the Thunderbirds (the affiliate of the Blues) not getting underway until Saturday.  Here’s the schedule for the best-of-seven series:

June 4: at Springfield
June 5: at Springfield
June 8: at Laval
June 10: at Laval
June 11: at Laval*
June 13: at Springfield*
June 15: at Springfield*
* – if necessary

Final Thought

There are certainly some interesting subplots in this upcoming series but none bigger than the goaltending battle.  Charlie Lindgren wasn’t exactly thrilled about how things went the last couple of years with Montreal with the organization prioritizing playing time for Cayden Primeau over him.  (From an organizational perspective, this was the right decision for pretty much everyone but Lindgren.)  That led him to opt for the open market last summer which brought him to St. Louis.  The move worked out well for him as he had a career year with the Thunderbirds and did well for the Blues in five NHL games, including a victory over the Habs.

Now, assuming he reclaims the starting job at some point in the series, he’ll get to face off against his former team and the goalie who displaced him in the organization.  Talk about the potentially perfect recipe for revenge. 

It’s possible that Lindgren will have to wait a little bit as Joel Hofer has done well since Lindgren went up to join the Blues.  He won all four of his starts and even scored one of their 32 goals (in all of six games so far, a whopping average of 5.33 goals scored per game).  Accordingly, Primeau will need to steal some victories for Laval to have a chance and to prevent Lindgren from getting the last laugh in the process.  It’s not all about the goalies but for me, that will be the intriguing matchup to keep tabs on throughout the series.