Following Éric Bélanger’s resignation Tuesday afternoon, Lions vice-president and general manager Marc-André Bergeron opted to take on the team’s head coaching responsibilities. Top item on his things-to-do list? Continue Trois-Rivières’ four-game winning streak.
It was the Grizzles, however, who had the game’s first quality scoring chance when Dakota Raabe came close to capitalizing on a Lions’ defensive miscue and found himself in all alone in front of the Lions goal, but netminder Joe Vrbetic made a quality save to keep the game scoreless. It was the Lions’ turn a few minutes later, although Colin Bilek couldn’t convert Nicolas Larivière and Anthony Beauregard's set-up and his shot was just barely off target. Then John Parker-Jones had a chance, but the king-sized forward was stymied by Utah goaltender Trent Miner. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Parker-Jones would find the back of the net, and that proved to be correct when he took an Anthony Beauregard pass and scored. It was Parker-Jones’ fourth goal in as many games and his fine play since arriving in Trois-Rivières continues, having collected five points in his last three games. Grizzlies’ head coach Ryan Kynasewich and his players were nowhere near ready to concede the game and with less than six minutes remaining in the first period, Johnny Walker deflected Andrew Nielsen's shot to even the score at 1-1.
The start of the second period saw Vrbetic frustrating Cameron Wright with a pad save after Wright found himself in all alone on a breakaway. The home side then proceeded to apply constant pressure and getting the best scoring chances, but Vrbetic remained solid in goal, turning aside all Grizzly scoring chances. Near the end of the period, the Lions scored two goals of their own in a space of less than two minutes: Larivière took advantage of a set-up from Alex Breton and Bilek to make it 2-1 and then Cédric Montminy was able to thread the needle on a magnificent pass from James Phelan. After 40 minutes of play the Lions were ahead 3-1.
In the middle of the third period the Grizzlies’ Raabe completed a nice individual effort with a top-shelf shot, reducing the Lions’ lead to one goal. Unfortunately for the home squad, the Lions responded with two quick goals when Beauregard and Parker-Jones each scored to give the Lions a three-goal advantage. But just when it looked as though the game was out of reach for Utah, the Grizzlies scored two goals in the game’s waning moments to give the Maverik Center fans a sense of hope. That hope was crushed when the Lions’ Larivière scored into an empty net, giving the Lions a 6-4 victory and Marc-André Bergeron his first win as head coach.
The Lions’ winning streak now stands at five games. Trois-Rivières will be back in action against the Grizzlies Saturday night at 9:10 p.m.