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2022 Calder Cup Playoffs

Rocket Force Game 7 in Dominant Win

Rocket Force Game 7 in Dominant Win

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Laval Rocket forced a decisive Game 7 in their Eastern Conference Final series with the Springfield Thunderbirds on Monday with an impressive Game 6 win at MassMutual Center in a 5-1 win. With their backs against the wall and away from home for the remainder of the series, Laval got an impressive effort from forward Danick Martel and more strong goaltending from Cayden Primeau to flip the script on the Thunderbirds with a four-goal third period in their most impressive win of the series. The winner-take-all finale is set for Wednesday evening in Springfield.

As has often been the case between these two teams, there was little offense through much of the first 40 minutes. The two teams seemed destined to duel until some puck luck came into play. Much as it did to the benefit of Springfield in Game 5, this time, it was the Rocket getting a break. The puck got tied up in the skates of Tommy Cross as goaltender Joel Hofer played the puck at the side of the net, and Cross made an ill-advised pass right onto the stick of Martel for perhaps the easiest goal of the series to open the scoring.

Laval carried their strong play into the third when Gabriel Bourque scored his second postseason goal to double the lead under two minutes into the period. The goal came from a good neutral-zone play — Martel found Bourque streaking over the blue line, and the latter fired a laser past Hofer. Martel capped off a two-goal and one assist effort with his second strike before the period was halfway through on a nice neutral-zone stretch pass from Brandon Gignac, and Martel made no mistake with the space to make it 3-0.

Springfield worked their way back into the game with a goal of their own as Matthew Peca scored his fourth goal of the postseason to cut the deficit to two. Laval responded with an empty-net goal from Gignac to seal the deal, and a late goal from Lucas Condotta on the power play with under a minute to play in the contest. Both teams finished with 31 shots on goal, with Primeau stopping 30 for the win and second-star honors, while Hofer made 26 stops on 30 shots against for the game. The two teams saw some animosity boil over much as it did at the end of Game 4 as Cross was ejected for continuing an altercation while taking on Martel.

The stage is now set for a dramatic Game 7, and this is the first time the Thunderbirds have been pushed to the limit in this year’s playoffs. Laval faced a similar situation earlier in the postseason and earned an overtime series-winner over the Syracuse Crunch. The way the series has gone could also see Wednesday’s game go beyond regulation. Three of the six games so far have gone beyond regulation, and the theme of the series has been responding to adversity as the two teams have alternated wins throughout the initial six games. Each team has suffered a loss of three goals or more in these playoffs, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see each team put forth their best efforts for a wildly entertaining game where one team will play for the Calder Cup, and the other will go home.

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