An exciting game right to the very end !
After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally all back together at Colisée Vidéotron as our Lions launched their 2022-23 regular-season campaign against the Maine Mariners. Head coach Éric Bélanger and his players certainly wanted to start the season in style with a victory for the team’s many fans in attendance.
The Lions started the game firing on all cylinders with several good scoring opportunities. Ryan Francis and Cédric Montminy were both thwarted by Mariners’ goaltender Brandon Bussi. However, Cameron Hillis did manage to find the back of the net with a shot from the blue line to register the first goal of the season for the Lions. Although Trois-Rivières dominated the Mariners, Maine took advantage of a power play opportunity to even the score at the end of the first period, courtesy of defender Grant Gabriele.
In the second period, the Lions’ new assistant captain Olivier Galipeau pounced on a puck in front of the Mariners’ net to restore the lead for Trois-Rivières. Outplaying their opponents, the Lions continued to apply the pressure. Hillis had two golden opportunities to double the lead, but Bussi was spectacular in goal, stopping 24 of the 26 shots directed towards him after 40 minutes of play. The Lions had to think they’d be going into the locker room with a 2-1 lead, but the New Englanders yet again took advantage of a power play opportunity to get right back into the game. Matthew Santos beat Philippe Desrosiers with less than a second left to play in the period, setting the stage for a thrilling final 20 minutes of regulation time.
Early in the third period, the Mariners dealt the Lions a blow by taking the lead with a goal from forward Nick Master. However, Trois-Rivières was nowhere near to conceding the game. Following a Galipeau shot that hit the post, Ryan Francis passed the puck to teammate William Leblanc, who promptly scored and leveled the score at 3-3, much to the delight of the 4,575 fans on hand at Colisée Vidéotron. Next stop: Overtime. On a two-on-one break, the Mariners’ Nick Jermain took advantage of a perfect pass from Cameron Askew and Maine ended the game with a 4-3 OT win.
Although not the outcome hoped for by the Lions – who were clearly the superior team throughout the game, dominating the shots on goal category by a margin of 40 to 23 – the team will attempt to bounce back Saturday night when they face the Mariners for the second time in as many nights.