Head coach Éric Bélanger's Lions were hoping to depart Maine late Sunday afternoon with back-to-back wins and in so doing garner five points out of a possible six in the first weekend of 2022-23 ECHL action.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the New Englanders had other plans in mind and had no intention of letting Trois-Rivières snatch those two points quite so easily. Midway through the first period, Maine’s Cameron Askew redirected Fedor Gordeev's shot to handcuff Lions’ netminder Philippe Desrosiers, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead. The Lions came close to tying the game on a Ryan Francis attempt in the final minutes of the first period, but Mariners’ goaltender Brandon Bussi made a breathtaking save, and allowed Maine head coach Terrence Wallin and his players to head into the locker room with a one goal lead.
Right from the start of the second period, the Lions were driving hard and had several chances to equal the score. Alex Breton managed to get in all alone on Bussi, but the Mariners goalie made a glove save to preserve the Mariners’ 1-0 lead. Moments later, Nicolas Guay took advantage of a power play opportunity to create havoc in the Mariners’ zone, but his shot ended up clanking off the crossbar. Their inability to finish matters off came back to haunt the Lions when the Mariners’ Nick Jermain doubled Maine’s lead with a nice backhand deke on a breakaway. It looked as though the Lions would be heading into the second intermission down two goals, but Cam Hillis closed the gap to one when he scored with less than a second left in the period. James Phelan and Alex Breton each registered their first assists of the season on the goal.
The Lions started the third period right where they left off at the end of 40 minutes, but Bussi successfully negated scoring chances by William Leblanc and Francis Thibeault to allow the Mariners to maintain their lead. With less than three minutes remaining in regulation time, Maine’s Patrick Shea essentially dealt the final blow when he finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Nick Master and Matthew Santos. The Lions’ Anthony Beauregard managed to close the gap with his first goal of the season, but subsequent goals from Nick Jermain and Gordeev – both into an empty Lions net – sealed the deal. Final score: Mariners 5-Lions 2.
The Lions finished their opening weekend with a 1-1-1 record. The team will be back at Colisée Vidéotron on Wednesday evening to face the Worcester Railers.