The Rocket defeats Crunch 4-1 to take control of the series

Alexis Belanger-Champagne, The Canadian Press

LAVAL, Que. Laval Rocket avoided the trap of being swept away by their emotions in their first home playoff game in franchise history.

Cédric Paquette broke the tie immediately after making a contact that led to the cancellation of a goal for his team in the third period, and the Montreal Canadiens’ farm club defeated Syracuse Crunch 4-1 on Thursday at Place Bell, in the third match of their North Section semifinal series.

The crowd gasped as Xavier Ouellet of Rocket was flattened by an opponent after 28 minutes and had to be carried off. Paquette released a few minutes later.

“Our team sometimes tends to lose control. Tonight we remained calm and the goal was to find a way to score the next goal,” said Rockets head coach Jean-François Houle.

The Rocket therefore has control 2-1 in the best-of-five series. The fourth match will be presented Saturday afternoon at Place Bell.

“The spectators were exceptional, right from the warm-up. They (the spectators) were all in white. It was impressive, “said Rocket striker Jean-Sébastien Dea.

“It’s special to play in this atmosphere.”

If an ultimate game is needed, it will take place on Tuesday in Syracuse.

Both teams did not leave much room for the opponent during the showdown. Despite the ups and downs, it was ultimately the Rockets powerplay that made the difference, going 2-for-7.

“We will not hide it, it was a disaster for our unit,” Dea said, returning to the Rockets’ problems with powerplay for long moments during the game. We were not able to get into the area. Sometimes you just have to get back to basics. We have changed our zone entries.

“We showed our character strength and we were rewarded.”

The Crunch was unable to capitalize on its two massive attacking opportunities.

Danick Martel also scored on the powerplay for Rocket, while Dea and Louie Belpedio provided insurance goals in an empty net late in the match. Cayden Primeau stopped 22 shots.

Remi Elie was in charge of Crunch. Maxime Lagacé made 23 saves.

No changes had been made to the two teams. Rocket therefore played with 11 strikers and seven defenders for the second game in a row.

Without trying

The Rocket quickly opened the scoring after 2:43 play and took advantage of their first powerplay in the game. Martel moved the ropes with a one-timer after a perfect cross pass from Sami Niku.

The Crunch played almost luck after just over eight minutes of play. Frederick Claesson’s shot deflected Cole Koekpe in front of the net, then on the skate by Rocket defender Tobie Paquette-Bisson. Primeau had to extend the stick towards the ice to prevent the puck from crossing the finish line.

Rocket had three more power plays before the end of the first period, but often had a hard time adjusting to the opposite territory. Dea is the one who was closest to widening the hole, but he reached the post.

Alex Barré-Boulet was close to equalizing with just over a minute left of the first period. The Crunch forward started from the corner of the rink and stormed towards the Rocket net. Barré-Boulet managed to push the puck between Primeau’s cushions, but the puck hit the post and then gave towards Primeau’s right skate before being swept out of injury.

Rocket went two-on-one early in the second period, but Paquette ran into Lagacé. Darren Raddysh collected the puck and made a long pass to Elie, who escaped. The Franco-Ontarian beat Primeau in 4:49 with a powerful slapshot.

There were not many shots on goal in the first 40 minutes of play, and The Rocket had a 14-10 advantage in that regard after two periods.

Barré-Boulet blocked the Rockets’ best chance of the second period when he dived to cut off a Dea pass to Teasdale on a two-man attack on the goalkeeper.

Xavier Ouellet managed to beat Lagacé after about six minutes of play in the third period. However, the referee was unimpressed, and booked him for diving.

In the following seconds of play, Barré-Boulet reached the post to the left of Primeau.

The Rocket finally took the lead on their seventh powerplay in the game. Paquette skillfully deflected Dea’s shot-pass in goal at 8:49.

Although he did not always seem confident in front of his net, Primeau managed to close the door to Crunch late in the match.

Dea got the fans started celebrating by scoring in an empty goal with 1:42 left on the clock. Belpedio also scored in an empty goal late in the match with 20 seconds left.

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