Having forced a seventh and deciding game in the North Division semi-finals against Newfoundland, head coach Éric Bélanger's squad was aiming for a third consecutive win over the Growlers for the first time this season. In their inaugural campaign in the ECHL, the Lions had the opportunity to eliminate the 2019 Kelly Cup champions. The Lions started the game well, applying plenty of pressure on the Growlers’ defence and getting some good scoring chances. Justin Ducharme had the best opportunity, but Growlers’ netminder Keith Petruzzelli made a big-time save to keep the game scoreless. With less than five minutes to go in the first period, Tyler Boland took a Zach O'Brien pass and beat Trois-Rivières’ goalie Philippe Desrosiers with a one-timer. After 20 minutes of play the Lions were down 1-0.The Growlers didn’t let up in the second stanza and increased their lead to 2-0 after slightly more than five minutes of play in the period: Noel Hoefenmayer was the recipient of an excellent play started by Boland and Zach O'Brien. Six minutes later, the Lions’ Anthony Nellis converted a rebound off an Alexandre Fortin shot to cut Newfoundland’s lead in half. The Lions then found themselves getting into penalty trouble, giving the Growlers two five-on-three chances. However, led by spectacular goaltending from Desrosiers, the Lions dodged a bullet and did not surrender a third goal while on the penalty kill. After 40 minutes of play the Lions were only trailing by a single goal, 2-1.The Growlers’ Boland struck again early in the third period to make the score 3-1. The Lions desperately tried to get back into the game and Hayden Shaw scored on the power play to make it 3-2. However, three minutes later, it was Ben Finkelstein getting the better of Desrosiers to restore the Growlers’ two-goal lead. Trois-Rivières did everything it could to stage a comeback, but Newfoundland’s Orin Centazzo sealed the deal with an empty net goal with a minute-and-a-half left in the game.Despite this 5-2 loss, our Lions can be very proud of their first season in the ECHL. It’s unfortunate that the adventure has now come to a close in the first round of the playoffs, and in the seventh and deciding game at that. A huge “thank you” to our fans for their support throughout the season!
The Trois-Rivières Lions will be holding a media availability as part of their end of season review in the coming days.