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Laval @ Toronto recap & highlights: Cayden Primeau shines as the Rocket romp

Even with the offence potting five goals, their goaltender was the Rocket’s biggest star on Sunday.

Club de Hockey Canadien

The Laval Rocket entered Sunday’s contest feeling fairly confident. They had taken three of four points against the Texas Stars on Wednesday and Friday. This was thanks in major part to some incredible play between the pipes from Cayden Primeau and timely goal contributions up and down the lineup, including the overtime winner on Friday from Brandon Gignac.

The Rocket lineup remained on the lighter side as Laurent Dauphin and Corey Schueneman weren’t available to the team after being sent down from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday evening. Also not in the lineup was recent recall from the ECHL, Peter Abbandonato, who was fresh off a four-goal outing against the Florida Everblades on Saturday night. Facing the Rocket was their old nemesis, the Toronto Marlies, and despite Laval’s early season success against them, they were now facing Petr Mrazek in net as he was down in the AHL on a conditioning stint.

In the early minutes, it was all Rocket as they attacked the slot repeatedly and forced Mrazek to make a number of saves on high-danger shots, but before long Laval had found the back of the net. Kevin Roy poked the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and Gignac collected it. The hero from Friday night spun and fired a diagonal pass to Danick Martel in the slot, and the veteran winger snapped a low shot by Mrazek to give the Rocket a well-deserved early lead.

Laval’s pressure didn’t cease after the opening goal, and it forced the Marlies to take a penalty. The Rocket power play struggled to keep that momentum going as the Marlies defended well, and may have scored short-handed if not for an incredible defensive backcheck from Charles-David Beaudoin to deny a clean breakaway chance after a turnover.

Toronto used the momentum from their penalty kill to grow back into the game, and a deep push by Brett Seney led to Terrance Amorosa taking a hooking penalty. It looked like the Marlies had tied the game as a clean point shot eluded the glove of Primeau, but clanged off the underside of the crossbar and out, a huge break for the Rocket.

With the penalty killed off, the Marlies continued to keep the pressure on the Rocket as the first period approached its conclusion, but the steady presence of Primeau never allowed Toronto to capitalize on any rebound opportunities. As the first period ended, Toronto was the stronger-looking side, but Laval was more than game to counter-attack when given the chance.

Much like the first period, the Rocket were able to take advantage of a lapse in Marlies coverage to find an early goal. Jesse Ylönen brought the puck in deep, then left it off for Amorosa, who carried it toward the goal line in a cycle. Amorosa then fired a hard pass across the front of goal and J.-S. Dea was right there to direct it into the open cage to double the Laval lead.

Again, in a strange mirroring of the first period, the Rocket were called for a penalty as Beaudoin was whistled for interference just a minute after the Dea goal. The Rocket penalty-killers were again up to the task as they dispatched the minor penalty. As it expired, Tobie Paquette-Bisson delivered a devastating clean hit to Pavel Gogolev that left the skilled Marlie dazed on the ice.

Toronto finally found the back of the net when a clearance from the defensive zone turned into a two-on-one rush. Despite Bisson’s best efforts, Seney converted the feed from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev to make it a one-goal game again.

That lead was restored to two almost instantly thanks to Gignac and the third line. Paquette-Bisson was able to chip a puck ahead to Martel, and he sprung Gignac on a breakaway. Gignac patiently outwaited Mrazek before neatly tucking the puck through the five-hole.

Just 10 seconds into the third period, the Rocket found themselves back on the power play with a chance to add a huge insurance goal to their total. Laval did just that, thanks to a timely bounce off a skate in front of the net. Alex Belzile ripped a puck off the end boards and spun to fire a pass to the slot, but it bounced off Curtis Douglas’s skate and behind Mrazek to make it a 4-1 game.

With the Marlies pushing desperately to try to keep the game within reach, Tory Dello tripped up Josh Ho-Sang, putting the Laval penalty-killers in a crucial situation. They again rose to the occasion, aided by some fantastic glove work by Primeau, and shifted the game back to even strength.

Primeau wasn’t quite done there as he made an initial save on Alex Steeves, but the rebound came to Douglas who tried to slide the puck around the Rocket netminder. Primeau stuck with him, spinning on his back to snag the puck with his glove along the goal line and keep the three-goal lead intact.

The teams again traded alternating power plays, with neither really making much of an impact. With just over four minutes left to play, the Marlies pulled Mrazek to try to find a late spark. They instead found another goal against as J.-S. Dea buried a long shot into the empty net. That was all the team needed to see out the game, and the Rocket capped off a strong week with another win over the Marlies, a team that normally gives Laval a ton of trouble.

Final Score: Laval 5, Toronto 1

The Rocket now head home to Place Bell, where they’ll welcome the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday night.