Rocket slumps as Crunch evens series with 3-0 win at Laval

The deciding match of the North Division Calder Cup semi-final series will be played Tuesday in Syracuse.

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The Laval Rocket failed to leave the launch pad on Saturday, losing a 3-0 decision to the Syracuse Crunch in front of a sold-out crowd at Place Bell.

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The victory allowed Syracuse to tie the best of five North Division Calder Cup semifinal series at two games apiece. The deciding game will be played Tuesday at Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse.

Cayden Primeau, who was outstanding as he led the Rocket to victories in Games 2 and 3, kept the Rocket in the hunt for two periods, but Laval suffered a self-inflicted injury early in the game. the third period, which allowed the Crunch to take a 2-0 lead.

Primeau had no chance on Syracuse’s second goal, scored on the power play. He lost his stick and was taken out of play when Laval defender Xavier Ouellet pushed Gabriel Dumont into the slot. That left an open net for Remi Elie to score his third goal of the series.

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Anthony Richard effectively put the game away when he forced a turnover at the blue line and beat Primeau at 6:24. Primeau finished with 34 saves.

The Crunch came out with more jumps than they showed in Game 3 on Thursday and Primeau was busy in the first period as Syracuse took a 13-7 advantage on the shot clock and took a lead. 1-0 on Cole Koepke’s goal at 5:36. Richard carried the puck behind the net and found Koepke on the other side of the crease.

“I thought our guys were a little tired, but (the Crunch) played desperately,” Rocket coach Jean-Francois Houle said. “They played a good game; it’s a good team. And I knew they were going to play well defensively and they did. It’s the playoffs and now we need to regroup.

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That may involve a roster change, which has seen Laval field seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

“We could change our plan, but it worked for the other two games,” Houle said. “When you lose, it puts things in perspective and you think. Our attackers looked a bit tired and they didn’t generate as much attack as we should have.

Although there were only four penalties called in the game, it was a physical competition with plenty of striking and the usual assortment of scrums after the whistle.

“Every game has been physical so far,” Rocket forward Alex Belzile said. “It’s the playoffs, that’s why we play hockey. We have to stay positive. We parted there, we parted here. (Losing today is) not the end of the world. Yeah, we wanted to close in front of the public, which again was incredible, but you have to have a short memory. They played a desperate game and it’s our turn to answer the bell for the next game.

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Syracuse goaltender Max Lagacé was injured midway through the first period, but the Rocket failed to take advantage of substitute Hugo Alnefelt. The Rocket had the only two power plays in the first period and, as Rafael Harvey-Pinard went close when he hit the crossbar, Laval was trailed 2-1 on shots as he had the advantage of a man.

Alnefelt, a 20-year-old Swedish rookie, made 24 saves and shared the shutout with Lagacé, who faced just four shots before his exit.

“We didn’t play well in our zone,” said Harvey-Pinard. “We had a hard time getting the puck back. We didn’t pass the goalie and had time to get the puck to the net. It’s something we have to work on. »

phickey@postmedia.com

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