Joe Vrbetic records his first professional shutout
Lions head coach Marc-André Bergeron and Co. were back in action Friday night against the Norfolk Admirals for the second game of the teams’ three-game series. After Wednesday’s 2-1 loss, Trois-Rivières was looking to bounce back and give themselves the opportunity to take the series.
Much to the delight of the 2,502 fans in attendance at Colisée Vidéotron, the Lions started the first period full throttle, completely dominating the Admirals. Trois-Rivières’ Nicolas Guay took advantage of a lucky rebound to light the lamp at the 7:44 mark, with newcomer Zach Kaiser collecting his first point in a Trois-Rivières uniform on the play. Norfolk’s Danny Katic was sent off for hooking at 11:18, giving the Lions a power play opportunity, and Shane Kuzmeski’s rocket from the blue line completed a set up from Ryan Francis and Brett Stapley to make the score 2-0. Even with a two-goal lead, the Lions weren’t going to take their foot off the pedal. Francis created a turnover and then capitalized, beating Norfolk goaltender Tomas Vomacka. Playing a near flawless period, the Lions entered the intermission holding a 3-0 lead.
While Trois-Rivières dominated the first period, the tables were turned in the second. The Admirals fired 25 shots at Lions’ netminder Joe Vrbetic, while the Lions only mustered five shots of their own. Fortunately for Trois-Rivières, Vrbetic was rock solid, making several key saves to maintain his team's three-goal lead. Particularly impressive was a sequence of three consecutive saves on Katic who had been toying with the Lions’ defence corps. Near the end of the period Trois-Rivières’ Anthony Beauregard and Cedric Montminy created a beautiful set up for linemate Francis, but Vomacka robbed the Lions’ forward of a goal. In no small measure to Joe Vrbetic, the Lions maintained their 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
The Lions’ difficulties in the second period were replaced by the quality form the team displayed in the first. Trois-Rivières added two more goals: Beauregard capitalized on a turnover in the offensive zone to score his 22nd goal of the 2022-23 campaign, tying Anthony Nellis’ record set last year for goals scored in a single season; then a few minutes later, Stapley took a pass from Francis to beat Vomacka. All the while, Vrbetic continued to be lights out, ultimately recording his first shutout in the professional ranks. The Lions’ goalkeeper stopped all 39 shots he faced, and the Lions earned a 5-0 victory.