After 82 games across three American Hockey League seasons, Laval Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau finally had his first taste of Calder Cup Playoff action Saturday.
Primeau made it a memorable one. His 37-save night allowed the Rocket to defeat the Syracuse Crunch, 3-2, in Game 2 of the clubs’ North Division semifinal series.
Primeau, 22, went 16-12-3 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 33 games this season. A 2017 seventh-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, he also saw action in 12 games with the Habs. After Kevin Poulin took the start in Game 1, a 5-3 Laval loss on Friday, head coach J-F Houle split the weekend workload by turning to Primeau.
Having a chance to take in Game 1 first helped, Primeau said.
“Definitely being able to watch the previous game, you get a sense for the playoff type of hockey,” Primeau told Laval reporters via the team’s social media page afterward. “Syracuse kind of gave us playoff-style hockey all year. That’s just the team they are. So, it was good preparation.”
With Game 3 set for Place Bell on Thursday, Primeau is looking forward to experiencing the team’s first-ever Calder Cup Playoff home game.
“For the last few years, you can feel their energy,” Primeau said of Rocket fans. “We thrive off of it, and just being able to give them a playoff game in Place Bell is going to be amazing.”
Despite the Henderson Silver Knights’ season ending Friday night, they had a very welcome sight behind their bench.
Head coach Manny Viveiros was back, and his return came when his players perhaps most needed him.
He had been out since taking a medical leave of absence April 19, missing the team’s final four regular-season games and Game 1 of their first-round series with the Colorado Eagles. With Viveiros unavailable, assistant coaches Jamie Heward and Joel Ward along with goaltending coach Fred Brathwaite, and video coach Andrew Doty had guided the Silver Knights. Viveiros was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October and had missed time earlier in the season while undergoing treatment.
“It was special,” Viveiros said via the Henderson website. “I just wanted to get back. I needed to get back with the guys. Obviously first and foremost, you’ve got to take care of your health. I got a green light to get back, and I said, ‘That’s a no-brainer. I’m going to get here as quick as possible.’
“It’s always good to be around these guys. They’re an extended part of my family. You want to be with these guys in good times and bad times.”
― Patrick Williams