An honorable performance that unfortunately ended in a 3 to 1 loss
Much to everyone’s surprise, Lions’ vice-president and general manager Marc-André Bergeron found himself behind the bench for the second game of the two-game series against the Newfoundland Growlers. Feeling the effects of COVID-19, head coach Éric Bélanger was unable to assume his coaching duties. Perhaps the coaching change would be an additional motivator to the Lions who continue to seek their first victory on Colisée Vidéotron ice.
The Growlers, however, clearly had other thoughts. Before the first period was a minute old, Zach Solow redirected a shot from Brennan Kapcheck to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Although beaten on the first shot he faced, Lions goaltender Joe Vrbetic recovered nicely and stopped the next 15 shots directed towards him. The Lions netminder was especially impressive when he made a spectacular save on Zach O'Brien who had been left alone in the slot. In the middle of the first period, Trois-Rivières’ Riley McKay made no mistake on a nice pass from James Phelan, finding himself all alone in front of Growlers’ goalie Luke Cavallin. The new arrival executed a nifty fake backhand to score his first goal in a Lions uniform, evening the score at 1-1.
The Growlers had a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the second period when the Lions committed two penalties in just 16 seconds. However, Marc-André Bergeron's players performed well, successfully killing the visitors' double power play. Vrbetic was impressive once again a few minutes later by making a key stop against Nalan Walker who had broken free. The Trois-Rivières goalkeeper was fortress-like, stopping all 14 shots aimed at him during the second period. The Lions' best chance came late in the second period when Brett Stapley was set up in the slot, but Growlers’ goalkeeper Cavallin came up with the save. Right at the start of the third period, Newfoundland’s Axel Rindell
produced a magnificent individual effort to give the Growlers a 2-1 lead. The Finn stymied the Lions’ defence corps before outsmarting Vrbetic with a pinpoint shot. Then the rest of the period belonged to Growlers goalkeeper Cavallin. He was sensational, thwarting wave after wave of the Lions’ onslaught. Stapley, Nicolas Guay, Alex Breton and McKay all came close to leveling the score while on the power play, but Cavallin shut the door, allowing the Growlers to maintain their lead. With 2:51 left in the game, Isaac Johnson lulled the Trois-Rivières defense before passing to Solow who beat Vrbetic with a one-timer. The Lions then pulled out all the stops, but Olivier Galipeau's shot hit the post to the goaltender’s left and the Growlers held on for the win.
The Lions’ 3-1 loss came despite a strong team effort. Trois-Rivières will return to Colisée Vidéotron ice on Friday for their first of two back-to-back games against the Adirondack Thunder.