Game 1 – Sat., June 4 – SPRINGFIELD 2, Laval 1 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Sun., June 5 – Laval at Springfield, 5:05
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 13 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern
Springfield takes a 1-0 series lead into this evening’s Game 2 after a 2-1 overtime victory in the Eastern Conference Finals opener last night... Shut out for more than 57 minutes, the Thunderbirds tied the game on a goal from Brady Lyle (2-3-5) with 2:56 to go in regulation before former Rocket forward Matthew Peca (3-7-10) won it 9:32 into OT... Joel Hofer (5-0, 1.36, .965) made 41 saves for Springfield; Hofer has faced at least 35 shots in each of his five postseason starts... James Neal (2-4-6) extended his scoring streak to five games with an assist for Springfield in Game 1... Danick Martel (7-2-9) scored the only Laval goal last night, breaking the scoreless tie at 15:11 of the second period... Brandon Gignac (3-3-6) recorded an assist, giving him points in four straight games... Cayden Primeau (6-2, 1.90, .938) stopped 37 of 39 shots for the Rocket, allowing two goals or fewer for the sixth time in eight starts during these playoffs... Springfield is 7-0 to begin the postseason, and has won 11 consecutive games overall... Laval finished with a 42-39 advantage in shots on goal in Game 1; the Thunderbirds have outshot their opponents only once through seven playoff contests.
Game 1 – Fri., June 3 – CHICAGO 5, Stockton 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Mon., June 6 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:30
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Chicago at Stockton, 10:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 14 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
A win is always a win, especially this deep into the Calder Cup Playoffs, and Springfield snagged a Game 1 victory.
However, Thunderbirds head coach Drew Bannister knows that his team is capable of more, and he wants to see that standard this evening in Game 2 against a speedy group of Rocket forwards. Laval’s transition game has earned praise from elsewhere in the American Hockey League this season, and the Bannister is the latest addition to that chorus.
“We know they’re a real quick hockey team,” Bannister said. “A transition team that can score off the rush. That was one thing that we really focused on. We kind of let them off the hook and made it an easy game in that sense for them, where they were able to use their speed against us to manage the puck.”
In the North Division Finals, Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert stressed the need to create more traffic in front of Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau.
Bannister sounded that same message for his team’s offensive-zone play.
“I didn’t think we had enough traffic,” Bannister said. “It was an easier night than most nights when we play. We’ve got to do a better job getting more pucks in and more traffic and trying to create secondary opportunities.”
What they saw was what they got.
With a lengthy break following the North Division Finals, Rocket head coach J-F Houle had ample time to prepare his club for Springfield. That sent the Rocket into Game 1 ready for what the Thunderbirds would present, even though the clubs had only played twice in the regular season.
There were no surprises for Laval from a Thunderbirds club that plays a no-frills, physical system that relies on wearing down opponents.
“We knew this series is going to be a challenge for us,” Rocket forward Rafaël Harvey-Pinard said after Game 1. “They are good in every zone. Good goalie [in Joel Hofer], too. We just have to play a little bit better in our zone, I think, and maybe be a little bit more in their goalie’s face.”
One area in which the Rocket came away quite happy was with the goaltending from Primeau, who held the Thunderbirds scoreless for the first 57 minutes of play. For Primeau, his night continued a trend of dominant postseason play following a challenging third pro season in which he rotated between the Rocket and the parent Montreal Canadiens as part of the often-difficult development path that many goaltenders must manage.
“Cayden has been really good for us,” Houle told reporters.
“He’s been a wall. For sure, he has persevered, and it’s not easy going up, and everything that happened, up and down. But he is showing a lot more maturity. He’s solid back there. He’s mentally ready to play, and he’s showing that he can play at a high level, and that’s a good sign for a young goalie.”
In Stanley Cup Playoff action last night, Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, Devon Toews recorded two assists and Pavel Francouz made 27 saves as Colorado defeated Edmonton, 4-2, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final... J.T. Compher scored the winning goal with 7:18 to play, and Mikko Rantanen added an empty-netter to seal the victory... Ryan McLeod scored his third goal of the playoffs for the Oilers.
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