Backed into the wall, the Laval Rocket was already forced to triumph if it wanted to continue its campaign. And he was two seconds away from doing it.
However, the Laval residents’ magic vial has dried up.
After a goal scored with two seconds to go to force overtime, the Utica Comets quickly finished the job to take the measure of the Laval team 2-1, Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The victory had to be a formality at this point in the meeting. So much so that the American League had already unveiled the three stars of the game on its website. But in the end, the Rocket gave up in two games in this two-of-three format series.
Jean-François Houle’s men could easily have avoided the torment of overtime. In the third period they let the locals take over and offered a game that wanted to be cautious and tight. However, this game was mainly punctuated by gestures of nervousness as it is often possible to see from such a young formation like that of the Rocket.
Once extra time started, the Comets were much more aggressive. The Rocket, which defied all odds by qualifying for the playoffs with eight wins in its last nine games of the season, seemed dry. He had no more tricks up his sleeve.
This magic which transported the club-school of the Canadian in the last straight line finally dissipated and the return to earth was brutal.
Frederic Allard, sidelined in Game 1 of the series, gave the Rocket a one-goal lead midway through the game. At that time, it was allowed to dream of holding an ultimate match, which would have been held on Saturday evening.
However, a point shot from Reilly Walsh brought everyone back to square one. At that precise moment, the faces grew long on the ice and the bodies of the players curled up. The chance to win the Rocket slipped through their fingers.
Once overtime started, it was Samuel Laberge who redirected a shot from Simon Nemec behind Cayden Primeau to confirm the Comets’ triumph. Barely two minutes were needed to see the thin crowd get carried away.
The Utica squad then clinched a bye to the round of 16, where they will cross swords with the Toronto Marlies.
The Rocket’s playoff push was made possible by an offense that worked at full throttle. After scoring 29 goals in their last six regular season games, Jean-François Houle’s troops beat Nico Daws just once in 123 minutes.
And the Rocket was out of the game in overtime. Their vis-à-vis simply took the lead by directing seven shots – against one for the Rocket – after returning from the locker room.
The Laval team also had to do without its number one center, Mitchell Stephens, injured at the end of the last game of the regular season. Despite the return of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen with the club, the Comets’ airtight defense proved superior to the Rocket’s attacking group.