There was a lot of noise all night at a busy Blue Cross Arena, where there was a true playoff hockey atmosphere, complete with the usual yelling at the umpires and the opposing goalie. It was loud, then it quieted down.
Quiet, except of course in the corridor of the visiting locker room, the Laval Rocket in this case. One after another, the players arrived to load their gear bag – sometimes looking a little exhausted – into the car for a return trip that will be faster than expected. That’s why Carl Gagnon, the Rockets’ road secretary, was able to yell for everyone to “go home,” which the team did in the middle of the night on the bus.
The Rocket won 6-5 in the third overtime period Wednesday to sweep the Rochester Americans 3-0 in the third round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Jean-Sébastien Dea scored the winning goal at 60Y Rocket’s shot, in power play, after 1 min 51 s in the third overtime. The same Dea who, at morning practice, said he wanted to make the Americans’ parent organization, the Buffalo Sabers, regret letting him escape after a two-year stint. He responded by scoring two goals and an assist.
“It’s for times like that that we play hockey. It’s fun to end it this way. I can’t ask for better. What a team effort! exclaimed the hero of the day.
However, that goal, and the 41 minutes of overtime that preceded it, almost never happened Wednesday night as the Rockets trailed 5-4 in the third period. But as in the last game of the previous round, Jean-François Houle’s men forced extra time at the last moment. Jesse Ylönen scored the equalizer 67 seconds from the end of the third period.
“A lot of guys are on their first heat and little by little it’s getting better, Dea recalled. We played well in Game 5 against Syracuse and we just played three good games there. »
the right mix
Despite allowing five goals, Cayden Primeau still had a say in the win, making 34 saves. “He had the fort. He made a great save when it was 2-0 for them, they had a breakaway and it could have been 3-0. He let us get back in the game,” Houle said.
This is the first time since 2011 that a Canadian school club has reached the American League Ace. But with the exception of Primeau, this team isn’t full of future great NHL prospects, like it was in 2011 elsewhere. Rather, it is the veterans who are leading the charge.
It shows in the minutes, with the three points from Dea, the two points from Xavier Ouellet and the guaranteed game, the many dominant presences of Danick Martel, another of those who scored in the victory.
And then there are those little moments that you don’t see. For example, in the second overtime, Brandon Gignac found himself alone against Aaron Dell. The fast forward had the win on the tip of his stick, but his backhand shot was too high.
“I have a good teammate, Alex Belzile, who helps me stay focused. He told me to calm down! It’s good for the boys. He helped me forget about it, focus on getting another breakaway and scoring,” Gignac said.
Without even being mentioned in the question, Houle himself identified Belzile among his key elements.
“We have several good veterans who do a great job of keeping guys cool. Belzile won two cups in the ECHL, apparently. Ouellet and [Gabriel] Bourque also has experience. Our elders are currently leading the charge. »
In the next round, Laval will face the winner of the series between the Charlotte Checkers and the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds lead the series 2-0. The next game in this matchup will take place on Saturday. This is a series 3 of 5.
This is good news for the Rocket, who will therefore be able to recover from a grueling 48-hour period, which consisted of a six-hour bus ride between Laval and Rochester, a 102-minute game, and then a return trip to Rochester. -Laval.
We tried to make each other laugh, to talk to each other, to tell each other that everything is mental. He was trying to talk to myself. The legs no longer moved. At this point, it is mental, it is played on a mistake.
And the trainer in all that? Should he continue to address his players once he’s back at the fifth intermission?
“No, I opened the door, I said: ‘Let’s go for that goal!’ No more talking, no more players thinking!” The recipe smiled at him.
Speaking of Houle, here’s one who finds himself in an unexpected situation. Hired a bit disastrously in the middle of the summer, after the particular departure of Joël Bouchard, here he is in the semifinals, in his first experience as head coach in the American League. Life does weird things sometimes.
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