(Laval) Cayden Primeau had a rough time over the winter, especially during his stint with the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s one win away from helping the Laval Rocket reach the North Section Finals of the American Hockey League.
Posted at 2:27pm
Primeau was in the net in both wins for Rocket, who leads 2-1 in their best-of-five series against Syracuse Crunch. The fourth game will be presented at the Place Bell on Saturday afternoon. If necessary, the ultimate duel will take place on Tuesday in Syracuse.
“He (Primeau) has been our best player in the last two games and got us out of trouble,” Rocket defender Louis Belpedio said on Friday. He gives us confidence and the lads are ready to give their all in front of him. We want to close the books at home. Nobody wants to go back to Syracuse,” he added.
The Rocket started their first playoff run in club history with veteran Kevin Poulin in goal and suffered a 5-3 defeat. Primeau then took over, limiting the crunch to three goals in two games and stopping 59 of 62 shots he faced.
After Thursday night’s 4-1 win at Place Bell, Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle said he felt Primeau wanted to show him that not trusting the series from the start was wrong.
“Obviously I wanted to go into the playoffs but Kevin has been great all season,” said Primeau. You still have to be prepared for anything. Things can change quickly for a goaltender, especially in the playoffs. »
A lot has actually changed for Primeau. The 22-year-old American has had a bumpy season.
Primeau may have had the worst moments of his career in the pro ranks during his stint with the Canadiens in January and February. He and Samuel Montembeault looked poor while the whole team went through an agonizing period that led to the departure of head coach Dominique Ducharme.
In his last two starts with the Habs on Feb. 8 and 10, Primeau conceded seven goals for the New Jersey Devils and then gave up four times on 14 shots for the Washington Capitals in just over one game period.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the mental aspect of things, about the need to turn the page quickly,” Primeau said. The most important thing was to focus on the things that make me successful. It was an important learning experience even if I would have missed those moments. »
Primeau noted that he consulted Rockets goalkeeping coach Marco Marciano, as well as Canada’s sports psychologist Dr. David Scott. He also benefited from encouragement from Habs goalkeeper Jake Allen.
“He told me that no matter how things are going today, you just have to try to keep improving,” Primeau said. When things aren’t going your way, focus on one thing and try to work on it. »
Primeau was also able to draw on his own knowledge after taking a course in sports psychology at Northeastern University.
Ultimately, everything helped him prepare for the music in the playoffs as he played perhaps his most important games since competing at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
“That’s what we play for. We all want to be in big games like this,” Primeau said. And Guardians are slightly different beasts. I think we like that pressure.
Yesterday (Thursday) we had so much fun. The fans were amazing. But there is still a lot to do. We need one more win to go through to the next round. We will be ready tomorrow (Saturday). »
A win would allow the Canadian Schools Club, all versions combined, to win a first series since 2011.