Laval Rocket vs Springfield Thunderbirds Game Recap: Line-up, Score, Game Report, Statistics, Highlights, Three Stars, Post-Game, Interviews, AHL, Rocket Sports Media
FINAL | Eastern Conference Final – Game 7 | Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Springfield wins series 4-3
|MassMutual Center, Springfield, MA|
Rocket LineupForward lines
Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Cedric Paquette – Alex Belzile
Brandon Gignac – Jean-Sebastien Dea – Gabriel Bourque
Joel Teasdale – Peter Abbandonato – Danick Martel
Lucas Condotta – Gianni Fairbrother (seventh defenseman) – Devante Smith-PellyDefense pairings
Xavier Ouellet – Louie Belpedio
Corey Schueneman – Tobie Paquette-Bisson
Sami Niku – Tory DelloGoaltenders
Cayden Primeau – Kevin PoulinScratches
Olivier Galipeau, Terrance Amorosa, Nicolas Mattinen, Owen Savory, Cameron Hillis, Riley Kidney, Peter Abbandonato, Joshua Roy, Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Kevin RoyInjuries
Lukas Vejdemo (lower body), Mattias Norlinder (upper body), Nate Schnarr, Jesse Ylonen
Game Report written by Amy Johnson
It all comes down to one game. Forget the series, forget the entire postseason, forget the regular season. After the Rocket won Game 6 on the road, all that was left was a singular game between them and Springfield Thunderbirds to determine which team would advance to the Calder Cup Final and which team would see their season come to end.
Jean-Francois Houle kept basically the same lineup as Monday night, except for adding Peter Abbandonato to the third line to replace an injured Jesse Ylonen. At the other end of the ice, Drew Bannister elected to go with Charlie Lindgren in net to face off against his former team.
The game began a bit tentatively, as adrenaline and maybe nerves were given a chance to settle down. Springfield took an early penalty, but Laval wasn’t able to capitalize on the power play.
A few minutes later, Brandon Gignac found himself in the penalty box for hooking and the Thunderbirds did something they haven’t been able to accomplish for this entire series: they scored on the power play. Matthew Peca was the one who lit the lamp with a wrister that sailed high, glove side, past Primeau.
After that, the ice was markedly tilted in Springfield’s favor. The building was louder then we’ve heard it in this series, and the weight of solving the power play, even just once, seemed to lift their bench.
The Rocket struggled to get the puck out of their zone, and when they did it was usually only to the neutral zone before Springfield skated it back in. On a few occasions where clear shots on the T-birds net was made, Lindgren looked strong.
Toward the end of the period, adding insult to injury, Alex Belzile completely missed a point-black shot on a wide-open Springfield net. And then immediately after that, Laval was called for another penalty, high-sticking by Xavier Ouellet, and would finish out the period shorthanded.
Springfield’s dominant play continued through the middle frame, smothering the Rocket and not allowing them to even register a second shot on goal in the period until almost the 11-minute mark. That’s when things kicked into a different gear.
Will Bitten made a nifty move to take a hit and make a play, giving Dakota Joshua an opening to fire the puck high on Primeau’s glove side and give the Thunderbirds a two-goal lead.
A few minutes later, Alex Belzile took a tripping penalty that proved to be a backbreaker. Springfield potted another power play goal, as Nathan Todd got in close, toe-dragged the puck to the corner of the crease and blasted the puck high past Primeau.
Laval had a late, but unsuccessful, opportunity on the power play, and the teams headed to the dressing with Springfield holding a 3-0 lead.
The Rocket had plenty of opportunities to try to mount a comeback in the third; it was Springfield’s turn to look a bit uncoordinated and sloppy. Laval pinned them in their zone much more in this period, and outshot them 13-5 in the frame, but just couldn’t find a way through Lindgren. The Thunderbirds netminder made some highlight-reel saves in the final period of the game.
Neither team made a trip to the penalty box in the third, and despite Laval’s best efforts, nothing was going in – not even a gifted point-blank shot by Danick Martel in front of a wide-open net.
Houle pulled his goaltender with just over six minutes left in the game, but Joshua potted an empty-netter, his second goal of the night, to hammer the final nail into the Rocket’s season.
The Laval Rocket made the playoffs for the first time in their young franchise history, and went on to win two postseason series and then take the Conference Final all the way to game seven. While the preference would certainly have been for them to advance and get a shot at winning the Calder Cup, this team has nothing to hang their heads about, even though the loss is hard to take.
In the coming days, the AHL Report team will bring you full coverage of Laval’s exit interviews and season wrap-up.
Be sure to scroll down to hear post-game interviews with head coach Houle by the AHL Report team and other members of the media.
Plus / Minus
▲ Sami Niku, Corey Schueneman
▼ Alex Belzile, Cedric Paquette, Devante Smith-Pelly
|0 for 2||Power Play||2 for 3|
Stars of the Game
|AHL Official Three Stars|
What Did They Say?
Drew Bannister (Head Coach, Springfield Thunderbirds)
Charlie Lindgren (Goaltender, Springfield Thunderbirds)
Matthew Peca (Forward, Springfield Thunderbirds)
Post-game interviews conducted for The AHL Report tonight by Amy Johnson
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