Danick Martel scores three points and helps the Laval Rocket force Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Springfield Thunderbirds (video)

SPRINGFIELD — The Thunderbirds squandered a great opportunity to clinch their first Calder Cup championship appearance in 31 years on Monday as the Laval Rocket cruised to a 5-1 victory in Game 6 of the Conference Finals. the East at the MassMutual Center.

“I don’t think we’re creating enough secondary chances,” Springfield coach Drew Bannister said of his team’s 0-for-4 power-play effort. we had a lot of jumps in our game, and (Laval) seemed to get more pucks than us. »

The victory forces Game 7, which will take place at the MassMutual Center on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

After taking a one-goal lead in the second, Gabriel Borque doubled Laval’s lead with a wrist flick past a diving defender inside the left face-off circle less than a minute into the game. last period. Danick Martel then scored his third point of the night (two goals, one assist) as he maneuvered around an overwhelmed Joel Hofer, making it 3-0 for Laval with 11:09 left in regulation.

The Thunderbirds avoided the shutout as Matthew Peca gathered a sold-out hometown crowd of 6,793 fans as he lit the lamp with 4:55 left. The goal was Peca’s fourth in the playoffs, while Nathan Todd got his sixth assist.

In the end, it wasn’t enough as Brandon Gignac and Lucas Condotta scored back-to-back late goals to help the Rocket win.

Despite 14 combined shots and a trio of failed power play attempts, Springfield and Laval went scoreless for 20 minutes of action.

Hoping to change that result to start the second, Tanner Kaspick and Will Bitten tried to revive the Thunderbirds offense by countering on the best opportunities after turnovers. Laval goaltender Cayden Primeau then made two of his game-high 30 saves to keep things tight in the second period.

The score didn’t stay that way for long, as Hofer tried to punt, but Martel intercepted the puck. In response, the left winger sent him high endsecuring the Rocket a 1-0 lead with 15:02 remaining in the frame.

After the 34th minute, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was called for tripping, granting Springfield their fourth power play attempt, still one point behind. But unlike those three previous attempts, the Thunderbirds kept Primeau guessing behind shots from different angles.

Springfield, however, failed to convert on their best human advantage opportunity as they forced a turnover and took off. Once Nathan Todd approached the opposing crease, he located Dakota Joshua along the weak side. But the center shot eventually sailed left with 1:44 remaining on the clock.

“Their goaltender (Primeau) has been good all series,” Bannister said. “He made timely saves for them where we are maybe able to separate some games or get closer. I would be more worried if the odds weren’t there.

“Ultimately, though, I think with the band in this room, it will eventually start.”

At the start of the second intermission, Laval remained in front despite being beaten by Springfield, 20-17.

Although the Thunderbirds now faced potential elimination, Bannister remained confident his team could still prevail.

“You have to find shooting lanes,” he said. “It’s up to the players on the ice to decide, especially the execution part since that’s the main thing. We don’t want to overdo it now. But as a coaching staff, we want to make sure they’re comfortable and confident in what they’re doing.

“At the end of the day, we want them to remember that we believe in them.”

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