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A third period heartbreaker

With tropical storm Nicole hammering the southeastern United States, the Lions were forced to stay in New Jersey on Thursday, therefore postponing the game scheduled for Friday night in Jacksonville against the Icemen. Head coach Éric Bélanger and his players were in search of a return to winning ways, having suffered losses in four of their last five games.

While the start of Saturday night’s affair was somewhat sluggish, with neither the Lions nor the Icemen able to create scoring chances, the end of the first period saw the two teams come to life. Jacksonville’s Luke Martin came close to beating Lions’ netminder Joe Vrbetic with a shot from the blue line while the Icemen were enjoying the man advantage, but the defenceman's shot hit the post dead-on. Just a few seconds later, however, the Icemen took the lead when forward Cristiano DiGiacinto deflected a shot from Christopher Brown to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. With just 15 seconds remaining in the first period, Trois-Rivières defenceman Alex Breton took advantage of a power play opportunity to tie the game. Breton was able to navigate past the Icemen defence and went in alone on goaltender Olof Lindblom: A perfect deke resulted in his second goal in three games, and the teams were back to square one.

The Lions had a five-on-three power play at the start of the second period. William Leblanc had an excellent opportunity to score off a rebound, but the Drummondville native was unable to put the puck past Lindblom. The Icemen immediately responded with two breakaways but were unable to get a quality shot on Vrbetic. Brandon Fortunato came close to restoring the lead for the home side, but Vrbetic made a glove save to keep the score knotted at 1-1 after 40 minutes.

The Icemen wasted no time to regain the lead early in the third period: At the 55 second mark, Derek Lodermeier took advantage of an Icemenpower play to give Jacksonville a 2-1 lead. The Lions were not going to go down without a fight, however, and Colin Bilek was the beneficiary of an odd rebound to even the score at 2-2 with his fifth goal of the season. But just when the Lions got themselves back in the game, the Icemen replied with three unanswered goals from Lodermeier, Cristiano DiGiacinto and Ara Nazarian in less than two minutes. The 5-2 final score was Jacksonville’s third victory this week.

The Lions will have to find a way to stay disciplined in Sunday’s game against the Orlando Solar Bears, having given up three power play goals Saturday night to Jacksonville. On the bright side, the team will be able to seek redemption quickly with it being an afternoon clash at Amway Center in Orlando. Puck drop is at 3:00 p.m.