Rocket @ Moose recap & highlights: Cayden Primeau’s strong start keeps the playoff dream alive

Laval snapped a losing skid with a strong showing on Sunday afternoon.

Desperately needing a win, the Laval Rocket rolled into Manitoba for the start of a two-game series with the Moose. Jayden Struble kept his spot in the lineup, and Frederic Allard slotted back in while Tory Dello and Olivier Galipeau took a seat in the pressbox.

Cayden Primeau was given the nod as the starter once again, while Kevin Poulin was the backup on the night.

The opening 10 minutes of the game were not strong ones for the Rocket as the Moose built a heavy shot advantage, but thanks to steady goaltending it remained a scoreless game. In those opening minutes, the team also lost the services of Brandon Gignac with what looked like a lower body injury.

Just as the Rocket were beginning to build some offensive pressure, Emil Heineman was called for hooking and put Laval on the game’s first penalty kill. The Rocket kill did a solid job to limit the Moose man advantage and saw out Heineman’s minor without much issue to keep the game scoreless.

With the Moose struggling to solve Primeau and the Rocket slowly growing into the game offensively, things hit a bit of an impasse as the first period wound down. A scrum involving Riley McKay broke out, meaning the opening frame ended with four-on-four hockey.

Nicolas Beaudin had a chance on an odd-man rush, and the Moose threw a huge amount of chances on goal, but some bad luck and great positioning from Primeau, respectively, meant that the teams entered the first break looking for a goal still.

Period two kicked off with a bit of a spark as Thomas Caron agreed to drop his gloves in a spirited tilt with McKay, likely the product of the scrum late in the first period. As they jawed at each other in the box, the Rocket started their push to try to find the opening goal of the game. Unfortunately, a hooking call on Beaudin saw the Rocket head back to the penalty kill shortly afterward.

Led by some strong shot blocks from Struble and deep pushes from Anthony Richard, the Rocket were able to fend off another Moose power play. That kill helped to spark the Rocket and finally break the deadlock.

Peter Abbandonato pushed a pass to Beaudin at the point, who had his shot blocked on the way to the net. The puck luckily bounced right into the path of William Trudeau, and he fired it past Arvid Holm to put Laval on top with about 10 minutes played in the second period.

The goal brought plenty of life back into the Rocket offence, and in the ensuing pressure the Rocket drew their first power play of the game. Just moments into the advantage a shot knocked out Ashton Sautner’s skate blade, leaving the Moose further short-handed. Laval took advantage with quick puck movement and capped it off with Anthony Richard rifling a pass to the stick of Joël Teasdale at the side of the net. Teasdale redirected it swiftly and put the Rocket up by a pair of goals with six minutes left in the period.

The Moose attempted to get on the board in the closing moments of the second period, but it was again Primeau securing the two-goal lead for Laval heading into the intermission.

Laval was again fast out of the gate to start the third period, and the fourth line got in on the action as Gabriel Bourque sent Nolan Yaremko on an odd-man rush. Yaremko attempted to get a pass across to McKay, but it was deflected into the net by a Moose defender to make it a 3-0 game.

The Rocket then got themselves into a spot of trouble as Joël Teasdale was whistled for high-sticking, a double minor no less. The Rocket penalty kill did an incredible job killing off the first minor, and half the second one before Dominic Toninato cut sharply to the slot and wired a shot by Primeau to make it a two-goal game.

With time growing short, the Moose eventually pulled Arvid Holm in favour of an extra attacker. A big shot block by Corey Schueneman allowed the puck to find Emil Heineman, who buried it into the empty net to secure a huge two points for Laval.

Final Score: Laval 4, Manitoba 1

The Rocket’s win snaps a bit of a losing skid, and keeps them within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the AHL North. These two sides will square off again on Tuesday evening.

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