A third consecutive win!
The Lions had the opportunity to register a third consecutive victory for the first time this season Friday night: Head coach Éric Bélanger and his players wanted to continue their momentum with an eye on bolstering their position in the North division standings.
The Lions started the game with the bit between their teeth. Four minutes into the first period, John Parker-Jones took advantage of a power play opportunity to score his second goal in as many games to give the home squad a 1-0 lead. The king-sized forward put the finishing touches on a magnificent sequence orchestrated by Anthony Beauregard and Cédric Montminy, much to the delight of the Colisée Vidéotron fans. However, the Admirals quickly responded with goals from Todd Burgess and Aidan Brown. The two forwards both took advantage of breakaways to give Norfolk a 2-1 lead. It was at that point when Lions captain Montminy took matters into his own hands. Goalless in six games this season, he lit the goal light twice in less than three minutes, restoring the lead for the Lions. A few minutes later Colin Bilek stymied the Norfolk defence corps before passing to Pierrick Dubé and the forward made no mistake with the opportunity he was given to increase the Lions’ lead to 4-2.
The Lions’ Riley McKay took advantage of a beautiful pass from William Leblanc at the start of the second period to go in all alone on Norfolk netminder Tomas Vomacka, who had come on in relief of Michael Bullion after the third Trois-Rivières goal. Vomacka made a key save to keep the score at 4-2. It was then Lions’ goaltender Joe Vrbetic’s turn to leave his mark on the game with two spectacular saves while on the penalty kill. The Lions’ lack of discipline did finally end up costing them when Norfolk’s Todd Burgess, while in the slot, converted Danny Katic's fine playmaking to narrow the gap to a single goal. But the Lions had not said their final word. Ryan Francis was the beneficiary of a powerplay to beat Vomacka, giving the Lions a 5-3 lead. Admirals’ head coach Jeff Carr had his team continue to mount the pressure on the Lions defence, but Vrbetic made a highlight reel pad save, allowing the locals to end the second period with a two-goal lead.
The third period saw Trois-Rivières content to protect their lead, playing disciplined hockey in their own zone. The Lions’ Riley McKay had the best scoring chance, but his one-timer missed the net. The Admirals were unable to generate any quality scoring opportunities until the Lions did ultimately show a lack of discipline and Norfolk’s Jake Smith found a chink in Vrbetic's armour with just under four minutes remaining in the game, making the score 5-4. Much to the relief of the many fans in attendance, Francis Thibeault scored an insurance goal for the Lions into an empty net to give the home side a third straight win.
The Lions will be looking to sweep the Admirals Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. at Colisée Vidéotron. Beauregard and Dubé’s status will merit close attention as neither was able to finish Friday’s game due to injury.