Lions come up short against Royals in goal-apalooza
Head coach Marc-André Bergeron and crew traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania to take on the Royals in a three-games-in-less-than-48-hours series. The Lions are a desperate team, and a win was a must if they wanted to continue entertaining thoughts of qualifying for the playoffs.
Things didn’t start well for Trois-Rivières when 45 seconds into the game the Royals’ Charlie Gerard found the back of the Lions’ net with a top-shelf shot. The Lions, however, wasted no time to equal the score when Nicolas Guay shook off two Royals and fed a perfect pass to Matthew Barron, who proceeded to beat Reading goaltender Pat Nagle with a top-shelf shot of his own. Then a few minutes later, Barron took advantage of a poor Nagle clearance and potted his second goal into an open net, giving the visitors the lead. With less than three minutes remaining in the period, the Royals’ Brendan Hoffmann tied the game at 2-2. The back-and-forth scoring continued just 57 seconds later, when the Lions’ James Phelan scored his first goal in a Trois-Rivières uniform when he pounced on a rebound. The Lions’ lead was short-lived, as Reading’s Colin Felix tied the game at 3-3 with just 17 seconds to go in the first period.
Ten seconds into the second period Reading’s Evan Barratt finished a set-up from Yvan Mongo and Gerard to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. At the midway mark of the period Gerard beat Lions’ goalie Francis Marotte, who had come in to relieve Joe Vrbetic, and the Royals were ahead 5-3. Trois-Rivières newcomer – defenceman Shane Kuzmeski – came close to narrowing the Royals’ lead to just one goal, but Nagle came up big. The Lions continued to press, however, and on a three-on-one break Phelan’s rocket made the score 5-4. After enduring a scoreless draught over 42 ECHL games this season, Phelan caught fire with his second goal of the game. Trois-Rivières then took advantage of a two-man power play, and Ryan Francis took a Brett Stapley pass to tie the score at 5-5 in the final moments of the second period.
The third period saw the Royals have plenty of scoring opportunities, but the Lions’ Marotte stood tall. Gerard – who must have had thoughts of recording a hat-trick running through his head – twice had quality chances, but Marotte didn’t give an inch. A third kick at the can by Gerard on a two-on-one break was also thwarted by a spectacular Marotte glove save. The Lions’ Santino Centorame came close to giving Trois-Rivières the lead when he went in alone against Nagle, but the Royals’ goalkeeper held firm to keep the score 5-5. The Lions then fell into penalty trouble and were assessed back-to-back penalties, and Reading’s Shane Sellar and Jacob Gaucher each scored on the power play with two goals in the space of 1:36. The Lions’ five goals weren’t enough on this night, and the Royals took the victory by a score of 7-5.