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‘I’ve never seen that before’: Home crowd, resilience has the Rocket a win away from moving on

Laval can win the series at home on Saturday afternoon.

AHL: MAY 12 Playoffs Round 2 Game 3 - Syracuse Crunch at Laval Rocket Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jean-Sébastien Dea was asked about the team’s biggest win of their season so far, a 4-1 win in Game 3 of their North Division semi-final against the Syracuse Crunch on Thursday night.

“The crowd was extraordinary, I’ll start with that,” Dea said. “Going out for warmup and seeing everything in white, it was quite impressive. It’s been a long time that I’ve been in the league, and I’ve never seen that before. It was fun to live that atmosphere.”

The 28-year-old has played in 450 AHL regular season games and played in 24 playoff games before Thursday’s in front of a sell out crowd of 9,873.

“Everyone worked hard, we didn’t give up, we gave everything until the end and came away with the win.”

The third period was full of ups and downs. The Rocket had a goal disallowed when Cédric Paquette made contact with Crunch goaltender Maxime Lagacé in the crease as Xavier Ouellet’s goal crossed the line. There is no video review for goaltender interference in the AHL, but replays showed it was likely going to be disallowed regardless because the incidental contact occurred in the crease.

After that shift, the Crunch started to push back, as the Rocket tried to re-settle. A shot hit the post behind Cayden Primeau, followed by the Rocket icing the puck. Shortly after, the Rocket got a power play, and the rest, they say, is history.

The team’s admitted mantra has been ‘never too high, never too low,’ and they have focused on controlling their emotions through the rollercoaster of not only a playoff series, but a single game.

“Throughout the season you learn a lot and it’s important that you learn. The good, the bad, different things happen, you have ups and downs. Never too low, never too high was huge for us,” said Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle. “I thought we stayed really calm on the bench, and usually our team gets out of control sometimes but tonight it was good that we remained calm and the objective was to find a way to find another goal.”

The Paquette Rocket

Cédric Paquette has been a key member of the Rocket playoff push, and admitted earlier in the season that the move to Laval has allowed him to have fun again.

It was something he repeated after Thursday’s game. Even noting that despite the fact he wasn’t able to produce he was having fun.

Houle, who coached Paquette in junior, says he has a big role in the team’s success.

“He’s one of our most physical players. Before we scored the disallowed goal, he had the big hit. He’s physical, he’s hard to play against, it was the same thing when he played in junior,” Houle said. “He’s a good team player, he’s well-liked, it’s fun to see him enjoying himself. It’s not easy to reach a point in your career where you’re sent to the American Hockey League, there a lot of things that go through your head. You can see he’s having fun, you can see he wants to win, and you see that he won a Stanley Cup. He has experience and it shows.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Rocket now have a chance to win the series in Game 4 at home, and avoid a winner-take-all Game 5 in Syracuse. Place Bell is sold out again, and Laval is hoping it’s not the last time they will see their fans this season.

“[Thursday] was so much fun, the fans were great all game,” said Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau after Friday’s practice. “We still have a job to do. We still have one more to try and advance.”

Puck drop is at 3:00 p.m. EDT, and will be broadcast on RDS and AHL TV. The game will also be on 91.9 Sports and TSN690 radio.