Following Wednesday night’s thrilling 5-4 overtime victory over the Railers in Worcester, Lions head coach Marc-André Bergeron and Co. continued their road trip by taking on the Royals in Reading. It marked the first time the two clubs faced one another in a three-games-in-three days series.
The Royals struck first when Colin Felix completed a nice play from Solag Bakich and Devon Paliani. The defenceman roofed his one-timer, leaving Lions’ goaltender Étienne Montpetit with no chance. But Trois-Rivières wasted no time in responding when 1:34 later Brett Stapley grabbed a loose puck in the slot to even the score at 1-1. It was safe to say that Stapley was the best player on the ice in the first period, creating some quality chances. His highlight reel fake on a Royals’ defender was gold, but Reading netminder Pat Nagle wouldn’t play along. After 20 minutes of play, the teams were knotted at 1-1.
The Royals came out storming in the second period and scored two goals in the first 68 seconds of play. While Montpetit played well in the first period, the Lions’ goalkeeper must have been kicking himself after Max Newton and Jacob Gaucher each lit the lamp to make the score 3-1. The Royals continued to press throughout the period with Newton ultimately scoring his second of the game. The Lions took advantage of a power play opportunity in the waning minutes of the period, and William Lemay capitalized to cut the Reading lead in half. Unfortunately for Lions fans, Longueuil native Jacob Gaucher restored a three-goal lead for the Royals with only 17 seconds left in the period. The Lions returned to their locker room trailing 5-2 after 40 minutes of play. After a trying second period, the Lions did manage to get a few scoring chances in the final 20 minutes. But Nagle stood tall, notably making a big save against Trois-Rivières’ Ryan Francis who was alone in the slot.
Another key save came against Cole Gallant who was in all alone. Midway through the period the Royals’ Felix joined Newton and Gaucher by becoming a member of the two-goal club. The defenceman took advantage of a lucky bounce to make the score 6-2, which is how the game ended: The Lions could not figure a way to get back into the game. The Royals therefore took the first game of three, with the second game Saturday afternoon, puck drop at 4:00 p.m.