Lions win! What a game!
After making the long journey to Newfoundland only to lose the first two games of this best-of-seven North Division semi-final, the Lions were back in the friendly confines of Colisée Vidéotron on Tuesday night to play their first-ever home playoff game. Head coach Eric Bélanger's squad knew that this was a must-win game if they wanted a realistic chance of winning the series.
The Growlers were full-throttle right from the opening face-off, peppering Lion’s goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, but the Trois-Rivières netminder was unbeatable, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the first period. The best scoring opportunity for Trois-Rivières came midway through the first period when Alexandre Fortin completely faked-out a Growlers’ defender with a fabulous deke, but his pass to Shawn St-Amant was deflected at the last instant, nullifying a great scoring chance.
The Lions ramped up the pressure in the second period. Connor Welsh got the better of Growlers’ goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, but his shot dinged off the post. The Growlers immediately went on the counterattack, and Tyler Boland was able to open the scoring with a pinpoint shot. But the Lions were not going to go down without a fight. Anthony Nellis pounced on a rebound off a Justin Ducharme shot to even the score at 1-1. The Lions’ leading scorer in the regular-season was just getting started: Nellis again found the back of the net, this time with 40 seconds left in the second period. The goal was quite similar to his first with another rebound finding its way into a gaping net. After two periods of play, the Lions were ahead 2-1.
The Lions did everything they could to maintain their lead in the third period. Desrosiers was rock solid in goal, and Trois-Rivières was doing its best to limit the Growlers’ scoring chances. But as the expression goes, “it’s not over until it’s over.” Newfoundland’s Zach O’Brien tied the game with two minutes left, much to the disappointment of the Colisée Vidéotron faithful. But that still left 120 seconds for the Lions to avert having to go to overtime. Anthony Nellis – yes, Anthony Nellis –deflected Josh Brook's shot to regain the lead for Trois-Rivières. With just 23 seconds left in regulation time, Nellis completed his hat trick and gave the Lions a 3-2 victory.
With this take-your-breath-away win, Trois-Rivières has now reduced Newfoundland’s lead in the series to 2-1. The Lions next take on the Growlers Thursday night at Colisée Vidéotron with the objective being to now even things up. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.