As was the case in its previous series, the Laval Rocket will find some rather tough and well-organized rivals on Sunday at Place Bell who could put it in its last entrenchments.

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The Montreal Canadiens subsidiary was less than 40 seconds from suffering elimination at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch before creating the tie and winning in overtime of the decisive game. Now they will face the Rochester Americans in the North Section final, a team that also had to come from behind in the third period of the latter part of their second-round duel. The Buffalo Sabers farm club overthrew the Utica Comets with three unanswered goals to triumph 4-2 on Thursday and make an appointment with the Rocket.

Also, head coach Jean-François Houle expects hard-fought duels. The two teams in attendance divided the honors of the eight meetings opposing them in the regular season and fought for a place in the playoffs until the very end. Although Rochester finished fifth in the division, Laval is taking its next file very seriously.

“They are a great team with a lot of speed and skill. It has very good young people that we have seen during the season and who are doing very well in the playoffs, he admitted in a press briefing after practice on Friday. I think we will have five games in eight days and we will have to manage our energy level, see if we have enough depth to use all our players and allow them to have fresh legs.

Mission difficile

Indeed, the task in front of the Rocket is not obvious, even if he holds the advantage of the ice in this new confrontation 3 of 5. The Americans he faced in mid-April are very different from those today, especially since the end of the Sabers campaign has provided them with some additional ammunition since. In the 2022 playoffs, Arttu Ruotsalainen stands out with his eight goals and three assists for 11 points in seven outings. However, he is not the only one to excel. Teammate JJ Peterka had nine points, while Peyton Krebs had nine assists. In goal, it’s tougher for Aaron Dell, who has a 3.29 goals-against-average and .882 save percentage.

Still, Houle’s men will want to focus on their game and according to their driver, they have learned more about themselves in the last few days.

“I think the last round allowed us to assess ourselves well as a team. We showed a lot of character coming from behind in the last game, he said. We had ups and downs, but we have to learn from those mistakes in the playoffs and we hope that [the lessons] will carry over to the next games.

Laval will host the Americans on Sunday and Monday, before heading to New York State for Game 3 on Wednesday. If a fourth matchup is needed, it will take place on May 27 in Rochester. The Rocket will play at home on May 29 if the series ever reaches the limit.