Cayden Primeau made 39 saves as the Laval Rocket defeated the Syracuse Crunch 3-1 at Place Bell on Friday night.
It was an emotional night in Laval as before the game both teams joined at centre ice for a moment of silence for the tragic events at a Laval area daycare that saw two children killed earlier this week.
It wasn’t a great start for the Rocket, who fell behind 7:53 into the game when Rudolfs Balcers scored his first goal of the season assisted by Gabriel Dumont and Alex Barre-Boulet, who just happen to be two of the All-Stars cheered last weekend.
The Rocket tied the game in the final minute of the period on the power play. Joël Teasdale continued his hot streak with his 14th goal of the season after a great pass by Anthony Richard to tie the game at 1-1.
Laval had two power play opportunities in the second period, but couldn’t convert. The Crunch had a chance of their own, but it was highlighted by a flurry of saves by Primeau, who had one of his best games of the season.
Cayden est en forme!— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) February 11, 2023
PRIM #GoRocket pic.twitter.com/5dHySfXVlN
Early in the third period, Laval took their first lead of the game. Mattias Norlinder made an end-to-end rush to enter the zone, passed the puck to Gabriel Bourque who made a cross-ice pass of his own to Mitchell Stephens. Stephens made no mistake for his sixth goal of the season.
MITCHELL STEPHENS#GoRocket pic.twitter.com/8n08p3TuWM— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) February 11, 2023
Norlinder has struggled to produce offence as of late, but it’s notable that he did this in his first game back with the Rocket blue line reinforcements. He had been playing mostly with Eric Williams, who was a try out from the ECHL. He missed the two games after Tory Dello and Madison Bowey returned in Toronto with an illness right before the break. He has points in two of his last three games.
It appeared that the Rocket made it 3-1 with a Peter Abbandonato goal but it was disallowed after it was ruled that he made contact with Crunch goaltender Hugo Alnefelt, but it seemed like the contact was initiated by the Syracuse player.
With the goaltender pulled, Teasdale scored his second of the game into the empty net to secure the big win for the Rocket.
Primeau, who was the game’s first star, spoke about the emotional night.
Laval c’est notre maison— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) February 11, 2023
Laval is our home #GoRocket | @cpreems29 pic.twitter.com/Dz83ccalhD
The Rocket continue their homestand with a rare night game against the Utica Comets on Saturday night. It is a rare reverse doubleheader where the NHL game is in the afternoon followed by the AHL game.
L’alignement pour le match de ce soir— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) February 10, 2023
Tonight’s lineup#GoRocket pic.twitter.com/8BP1TcHfSn
The Rocket are continuing to get healthy as they are playing their best hockey of the season. Nicolas Beaudin, and Jan Mysak returned to the lineup as did Norlinder, who missed two games. Pierrick Dube is representing France at the Four Nations Cup and is expected to return to the Rocket next week.
The team went with seven defenders and chose to bench John Parker-Jones with Alex Belzile and Jesse Ylönen back with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Rocket continue their strong run with points in nine of their last 10 games and they are closing in on the teams ahead of them. There is a lot to play for for the Rocket. The top five teams make the playoffs, but the teams who finish fourth and fifth play a best-of-three series to move on to the final four of the division.