Next stop: Adirondack for a three-games-in-three-days series
Lions head coach Marc-André Bergeron and Co. were looking to start the week off on the right foot by defeating the Reading Royals on Wednesday night before heading to Glens Falls, New York to take on the Adirondack Thunder in a three-games-in-three-days series.
Although the game started somewhat innocuously, the Lions did come close to scoring when Nicolas Larivière pounced on a rebound, and even though the forward had Royals’ goaltender Nolan Maier at his mercy, his shot clanged off the post. The Royals then applied pressure of their own, and Mason Millman beat Lions’ goalie Joe Vrbetic with a low shot that went between Vrbetic’s legs to give Reading a 1-0 lead. But just 1:29 later, the Lions’ William Leblanc made no mistake when presented with a rebound to even the score at 1-1, much to the delight of the 2,103 fans at Colisée Vidéotron.
Both teams struggled to create quality scoring chances in the second period. At the midway mark, while with his back to the Royals’ net, Trois-Rivières’ Cedric Montminy made a terrific pass to Brett Stapley, but the 23-year-old forward couldn’t redirect the puck past Maier. Then with less than four minutes to go in the period, the Royals thought they had taken the lead when Will MacKinnon’s hard shot deflected off the crossbar. The on-ice officials called it a goal but were over-ruled by video replay. The Lions’ Vrbetic stopped all nine shots he faced in the period while his counterpart Maier stopped the four shots he faced.
After not being especially busy in the second period, both goaltenders were tested early in the third. Positioned in the slot, the Royals’ Charlie Gerard took a Shane Sellar pass, but Vrbetic made a spectacular save. A few minutes later the Lions had a three-on-two break, and Colin Bilek found Francis Thibeault who had been left alone, but Maier made a perfect lateral move to stymy the Trois-Rivières defenceman. Former Blainville-Boisbriand Armada forward Yvan Mongo then beat Vrbetic midway through the third to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. The Lions desperately tried to even the score throughout the period’s final 10 minutes, only to have D-Jay Jerome's shot hit the post dead-on. Reading was able to hold on and ultimately Charlie Gerard sealed the game for the Royals with an empty net goal.
Even though the Lions went down to defeat for an eighth consecutive time, what fans are most likely to remember about the evening occurred after the final whistle. Joined by his loved ones at centre ice, Lions’ defenceman Mathieu Brodeur brought down the curtain on his playing career after having played more than 650 games in the professional ranks.