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Lions’ goalie Joe Vrbetic stands tall

Head coach Marc-André Bergeron and Co. were back on Colisée Vidéotron ice for the second time in less than 24 hours to finish their two-game series against the Florida Everblades. After a wild game on Friday night that unfortunately ended in a 7-5 Lions loss, Trois-Rivières was looking to bounce back to keep their hope of qualifying for the playoffs alive.

While fans got to witness a festival of goals (12 in all) on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon’s first period was much quieter. The Everblades dictated the pace of play, firing 13 shots at Lions’ netminder Joe Vrbetic, but he was up to the challenge, making sensational stops and keeping Florida at bay. Vrbetic was especially impressive with a key save against the Everblades’ Xavier Cormier on a two-on-one. The Lions only managed four shots on Florida goalie Cam Johnson, but Trois-Rivières’ James Phelan did come close to scoring in what would have been two straight games. To the dismay of the 2,624 fans in attendance at Colisée Vidéotron, Johnson was up to the challenge and the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes of play.

The Lions had several quality scoring chances in the second period. Captain Cedric Montminy had two excellent opportunities, but Johnson held his ground both times. However, Trois-Rivières wasn’t done quite yet. With 6:30 left in the period, Cam Cook sent a magnificent pass to Brett Stapley, who in turn spotted Montminy with a pinpoint pass. The Lions’ captain redirected Stapley's offering to score his 16th goal of the season to give Trois-Rivières a 1-0 lead. All the while Vrbetic continued to perform miracles, stopping all 13 shots he faced. The Lions goaltender made two highlight reel saves against Florida’s Sean Josling and Stefan Leblanc. The Lions headed into the second intermission holding a one-goal lead.

Trois-Rivières continued to apply pressure in the third period, and they were rewarded for their efforts. After Florida’s Nolan Kneen was penalized for tripping, the Lions went on the power play and Anthony Beauregard finished off a terrific set-up from Ryan Francis and Shane Kuzmeski to make the score 2-0. The Everblades’ Andrew Fyten pounced on a rebound at 9:27 of the period to narrow the gap to one goal, and in so doing prevented Vrbetic from earning his first professional shutout. The Lions’ 20-year-old goalkeeper continued to shine for the rest of the game, stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced in the game’s final 20 minutes. Trois-Rivières was able to hold on, and record a 2-1 victory.