Lions end the regular season with back-to-back wins
The day after qualifying for the playoffs, the Lions concluded their regular season by playing the third and final game of a three-game series against the Worcester Railers. Even though Trois-Rivières was guaranteed to finish in third place in the North Division, the Railers still had plenty to play for as they were on the outside looking in for a playoff spot and desperate for a victory.
Head coach Éric Bélanger’s squad wanted nothing better than to play the role of spoilers, making life as difficult as possible for their opponents. At the 11:27 mark of the first period, while positioned in the slot, Anthony Nellis deflected a Bradley Johnson shot which then beat Railers’ goaltender Ken Appleby and made the score 1-0. Lions’ netminder Arturs Silovs was solid in his net, stopping all 18 shots he faced in the period.
The Railers started the second period with the bit between their teeth – desperate times call for desperate measures, and such was the case for Worcester in their quest to grab the fourth and final playoff spot. Anthony Repaci capitalized on a two-on-one to even the score at 1-1. But the Lions were not going to let the Railers off that easy. Justin Ducharme took advantage of a loose puck in front of the Railers’ net to regain the lead for the Lions. Alexis D’Aoust and Bradley Johnson each picked up their second assists of the game on the goal. Trois-Rivières returned to the dressing room after 40 minutes of play holding a 2-1 lead.
In the third period, the Lions attempted to extend their lead and finish the Railers’ season. The best scoring chance was by Max Kaufman, but Appleby pulled off a spectacular save. Just as the Lions were heading towards victory, the Railers’ Bobby Butler capitalized on a rare Silovs mistake to tie the score and send the teams to overtime. The goalies were tested at both ends, not surprising when it comes down to three-on-three hockey. Ultimately the Lions’ Cedric Montminy recovered the puck in the offensive zone and spotted teammate Anthony Nellis on the opposite side of the ice. Nellis made no mistake, and Appleby had no chance, much to the delight of the home supporters.
The Lions completed their inaugural season in the ECHL by finishing in third place in the North Division with a record of 34-29-6. Now Trois-Rivières begins its postseason on April 21 in Newfoundland, taking on the Growlers. Following two games in St. John’s, the series switches to Colisée Vidéotron for Game # 3 (April 26) and Game #4 (April 28), as well as Game #5 (April 30) if necessary. Make sure to come out and cheer the team on in their quest towards the Kelly Cup!