Lions defeat their Canadian rival 5-3
Head coach Marc-André Bergeron and his Lions were out to right the ship after enduring three straight losses. Hollywood screenwriters couldn’t have written a better script: On Friday night Trois-Rivières found themselves in St. John’s, Newfoundland to face off against their bitter rival, the Growlers.
Things didn’t start well for the Lions however: The Growlers’ Todd Skirving took advantage of a rebound to give the home side a 1-0 lead, much to the delight of the fans in attendance at Mary Browns Centre. The Lions immediately went on the counterattack, but William Leblanc's shot dinged off the post. It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Trois-Rivières found the back of the Growler net, and indeed that turned out to be the case as Cédric Montminy – who had a great start to the game – capped-off a nice set-up from Jason Horvath and the score became 1-1. Newfoundland applied pressure of their own, and Pavel Gogolev found himself alone in front of Lions’ goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, but the St-Hyacinthe native made a great pad save to keep the score level. Then with just 42 seconds remaining in the first period, the ECHL’s leading scorer Zach O'Brien deflected a James Melindy shot to make the score 2-1 for the Growlers.
The Lions came out guns blazing in the second period and created quality scoring chances: Connor Welsh beat Growlers’ netminder Luke Cavallin with a shot from the blue line, but once again the post proved to be no friend of the Lions and the score remained 2-1 for Newfoundland. Trois-Rivières’ Nicolas Guay and Philippe Bureau-Blais also had good chances from the slot, but Cavallin stood tall. At the midway mark of the period the Growlers’ O'Brien and Orrin Centazzo had a two-on-two break, but it was Desrosiers’ turn to shine by making the save. Desrosiers’ heroics appeared to motivate the Lions who turned things up a notch: With just over three minutes remaining in the period, Montminy pounced on a rebound to score his second goal of the game. The two teams ended 40 minutes of play deadlocked 2-2.
The Growlers put immediate pressure on the Lions at the start of the third period when Brett Budgell and Keenan Suthers went in alone on Desrosiers, but this time the post ended up being Trois-Rivières’ friend and not its foe. The Lions then quickly went on the offensive and stormed the Growlers’ zone. Trois-Rivières’ Riley McKay fed defenceman Mathieu Brodeur and his low shot beat Cavalin, giving the visitors the lead for the first time. A few minutes later, the Lions’ Bureau-Blais created a turnover in the defensive zone, but ultimately his backhander was saved by Cavallin. It was then the Growlers’ turn to test Desrosiers, and an O'Brien rocket from the blue line tied the game at 3-3. Barely a minute later, the Lions’ Colin Bilek profited from D-Jay Jerome's playmaking with a perfect top-corner shot to regain the lead for Trois-Rivières. Desrosiers then stood on his head for the rest of the game making several spectacular saves, including one on a Centazzo breakaway. The Lions held on in the final minutes and Matthew Barron sealed the deal by scoring into an empty Growlers’ net.
The Lions defeated their Canadian rival 5-3, an important outcome not only for ending the team’s three-game losing streak but also marking the first time in 12 games that the team has scored five goals in a game.