Playing without Anthony Beauregard and Santino Centorame – both of whom were called up by the Laval Rocket – the Lions were out to avenge their 3-2 loss to the Adirondack Thunder on Tuesday night. Trois-Rivières had zero room for error if they wanted to win the final home game in 2022 with a victory in front of their fans.
At the start of the first period, the Lions’ Chrystopher Collin made a terrific behind-the-back pass to Jonathan Joannette, who in turn fed Brett Stapley who found the back of the Thunder net. Shortly thereafter, Adirondack’s Brandon Schultz attempted to light a fire under his team when he dropped the gloves with the Lions’ Nicolas Larivière, but it’s a decision he must have immediately regretted as Larivière proved to be a worthy opponent. Schultz’s efforts however did pay off as barely a minute later, Adirondack’s Ryan Smith took advantage of a power play opportunity to level the score at 1-1. The Lions used that as motivation of their own and while on the power play Stapley delivered a perfect pass to teammate Ryan Francis who beat Thunder netminder Isaac Poulter to make the score 2-1. The Lions came ever-so-close to extending their lead to two goals but Poulter stymied Nicolas Guay with an outstanding stick save.
The Lions started the second period strongly with excellent scoring chances from Cédric Montminy and Joannette, but Poulter was up to the challenge. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Trois-Rivières’ efforts would result in a goal, and that indeed turned out to be the case when Francis sped past the Thunder defence to create a two-on-one with Riley McKay. Francis’ pass to McKay led to McKay finding himself alone in front of Poulter, and the 23-year-old forward made no mistake with a masterful backhand deke. The Lions pressed throughout the period, finishing with 17 shots on goal compared to only six for the Thunder. Trois-Rivières entered the second intermission with a two goal lead.
Conner Chaulk came close to scoring his first goal for the Lions in the third period when the forward pounced on a rebound, but Poulter made the save. Trois-Rivières then showed a lack of discipline, giving Adirondack a two-man advantage on the power play. Laval native Xavier Parent put the final touch on a beautiful set-up from Colin Long and Jeff Ryzcek to narrow the Lions’ lead to a single goal. Adirondack continued to apply pressure on the Lions and goalkeeper Francis Marotte, registering 20 shots on goal in the third period alone. But Marotte was unfazed, frustrating the Thunder repeatedly. With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Larivière completed a “Gordie Howe hat trick” by scoring into an empty net, securing the win for the Lions.
Marotte – who was playing his first game in Quebec in nearly 14 years – stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, giving him a victory in his first game in a Lions uniform. Trois-Rivières now heads to Portland, Maine to face the Mariners Friday night before then travelling to Glens Falls to meet the Thunder once again on Saturday, December 31.