LaValle’s rocket was less than three minutes away from winning Game One of the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals, but former Matthew Becca’s rocket spoiled the party.
Peca played the champ at 9:32 of the first overtime period and the Springfield Thunderbirds beat Rocket 2-1 on Saturday at MassMutual Center in Springfield.
Matthew Pica comes to chase the missile
“For a game on the road after 10 days of inactivity, yes, it was a slow start,” admitted Danic Martel, Rocket’s lone scorer. But then she came back and we’re very disappointed that we didn’t come out with victory. »
Defender Brady Lyle needed a bit of luck to force the extra time: his shot deflected off Defensive Defender Torri Dello before hitting the target.
Rocket’s top scorer and scorer in the playoffs, Martel, shook the ropes as the second half broke off.
“For me, this is the worst part of qualifying, I dropped Martel. Even though I came out with a goal, I wasted a lot of chances. […] To start the game like we did, and give a lot of chances down the road, it didn’t help us. »
If Martel was tough on himself, then Rocket coach Jean-Francois Hall was pleased with the performance of his players, who developed under the watchful eye of Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes and the club’s vice president of hockey operations, Jeff Gorton.
“The work ethic was there, the guys competed to the end and that was the best we played since the start of the qualifiers. I think we are playing well defensively and we have to keep going.”
Both goalkeepers put in a great performance. Joel Hoover saved 41 shots in the win, while Kayden Primo saved 37.
“He gives us a chance to win every night and that’s really important in the qualifiers. It’s thanks to him for keeping us in the game tonight,” Martel said of his goalkeeper.
“He’s the best goalkeeper in the league right now,” Brandon Gignac added.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow evening in Springfield. The best series of seven games will then head to Laval for the next two—or even three, if necessary—meetings.
“We have to win tomorrow’s duel, because the fans here have no real influence,” Martel said before praising Laval fans.
Slow start, but dramatic conclusion
If no team came close to scoring in the first half, scoring opportunities appeared on the way back from the dressing room.
After opportunities back and forth in the middle period punctuated by key saves from Primo, Rocket had a good chance to score. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard fired a shot out of the hole, but Hoover caught it.
“We can play better than that”
“We missed chances near the net, but we have to give credit to the other goalkeeper,” Harvey Benard noted.
Gignac then fired Martel at a breakaway with a nice shot and the latter’s wrist shot surprised Hoover over the shield. Toby Beckett-Bison was also Martell’s seventh goal partner in the playoffs.
Mackenzie MacEachern – very dynamic during the match, including six shots at the net – had one of his many chances early in the third half after Primeau halted the breakup. He got frustrated with the Montreal goalkeeper plate three times in the span of a few seconds.
With less than three minutes of play, the locals entered the scoreboard. Lyle’s blue line veered off Delo before finding its way through the Primo pads. Old timers James Neal and Nathan Todd had assists in the line.
“It is unfortunate for him (Primo), because he is in a good position. “The puck deflects at the last minute … It is difficult for the goalkeeper, because it is really not his fault,” said Harvey Benard.
Todd was first to appear in overtime when his shot overtook Primo, but hit the post head-on.
Peca gave the Thunderbirds the win by scoring near the halfway point of the overtime period. He got a pass in the hole from Matthew Kessel and threaded the needle with a bullet into the side of the primo glove.
Martel finally broke the ice at the end of the second
Thunderbirds breached the Primeau Wall in the late 3rd century
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