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Rocket 3, Moose 2: Cayden Primeau the difference maker in tight game

By Dylan Buvat

The Laval Rocket snapped the Manitoba Moose’s four-game winning streak on Wednesday night, and secured a 3-2 win in front of their home crowd at Place Bell. Goaltender Cayden Primeau played a huge part in his team’s third consecutive win, as he stopped 39 of the 41 shots he faced.

“Prime is excellent for us right now,” said Rocket forward Brandon Gignac. “And we saw it again tonight. He’s the future of the Montreal Canadiens, in my opinion.”

Primeau also had the confidence of his head coach Jean-Francois Houle, who chose to start the 22-year-old goaltender in a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night. “If he wants to be a goalie in the NHL, he’s got to play every other night,” said Laval’s bench boss. “He’s young, he’s got energy. We’re going to keep running with him as much as we can.”

Alex Belzile opened the scoring for the Rocket in the final minutes of the first period, sneaking one past Manitoba netminder Mikhail Berdin and giving his team the lead. This was Belzile’s third goal of the season, and his second in as many games. After a quiet first period, the Rocket would enter the first intermission up 1-0.

Early in the second however, a costly hooking penalty by Rocket forward J-C Beaudin would result in a powerplay goal for the Moose. Manitoba would tie the game 1-1 on a rebound goal by forward, and Cornell University alum, Jeff Malott.

 Later in the period, rookie defenseman Mattias Norlinder would score his first career AHL goal on a shot from the point, giving his team the 2-1 lead. This was Norlinder’s first goal since coming over from Sweden, and he was understandably very excited.

“Oh yeah, it’s always nice to score,” said Norlinder, with a huge smile.

Rocket forward Kevin Roy, who scored what would be the game-winner early in the third period, gave praise to the rookie defenseman, who arguably had his best game of the season.

“He’s got a mean shot,” said Roy. “You can see the talent is there, and he’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

Laval’s head coach Jean-François Houle was also impressed with how Norlinder handled himself on the ice on Wednesday night, especially as the team’s powerplay ‘quarterback’.

“I really liked his defensive game tonight, he was often first on the puck,” said Houle. “I also really, really liked him on the powerplay. I found he was making great passes, controlling the puck and controlling the blueline. And it was nice to see him smile today.”

Despite their late third period goal and outshooting their opponent 18 to 8 in the final frame, the Moose would run out of time and fall 3-2 to the Rocket.

Following tonight’s game, the Rocket have improved their season record to 10-9-2. The club will look to extend their four-game point streak against the Rochester Americans on December 10.