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Lions face elimination Saturday night

After an emotional Tuesday night victory that left everyone breathless, the Lions were hoping to ride that wave into Game 4 and produce a second consecutive win. Head coach Éric Bélanger and his Lions were looking to even the series at two games apiece in front of a Colisée Vidéotron home crowd.

The Lions stumbled out of the gate in the opening period, which allowed the Growlers to capitalize at the 6:10 mark with the game’s first goal. Newfoundland’s Ryan Chyzowski took advantage of some defensive confusion and used the opportunity to test Lions’ goaltender Philippe Desrosiers. Chyzowski’s perfectly placed top-corner shot left the Lions goalkeeper with no chance. However, the goal appeared to ignite the home team and the Lions began to threaten Growlers’ goaltender Keith Petruzzelli on several occasions. Tim Vanstone and Peter Abbandonato in particular both came ever-so-close to leveling the score, but were unsuccessful. Trois-Rivières completely dominated the first period in the shots on goal department (18-6), but after 20 minutes of play, the Growlers held a 1-0 advantage.

The Growlers put the pedal to the metal in the second period, defusing the Lions attack that was seen in the opening stanza and scored three unanswered goals, including two in the space of eleven seconds. Marc Johnstone, Noel Hoefenmayer and Derien Plouffe all beat Desrosiers to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Meanwhile, Petruzzelli remained rock solid in the Newfoundland goal, frustrating Olivier Archambault as well as Max Kaufman when both had quality scoring chances. At the end of the second period the Lions were down 4-0.

Desperate to get back into the game, the Lions started the third period strongly. During a two-on-one break, Abbandonato served-up a pinpoint pass to Justin Ducharme, who made no mistake, and scored his first goal of the playoffs. This was the spark the Lions badly needed, and they pulled out all the stops. With just 33 seconds remaining in the game, Hayden Shaw took advantage of a power play to register the Lions’ second goal of the night. However, despite many outstanding scoring chances in the third period, the hole the Lions had dug themselves in was too large, and ultimately went down to defeat, 5-2, with the Growlers adding an empty net goal.

The Lions now face elimination on Saturday night. Fan support at Colisée Vidéotron will be crucial in the team’s quest to force a Game Six.