The Lions and the Reading Royals faced off for the first time this season Saturday night in Pennsylvania. Based upon what we saw last year – the high energy level these two clubs displayed both on and off the ice during each of their encounters – we were quite confident the teams would resume their rivalry exactly where they left off in the 2022-23 season. Players to watch included the scoring leaders for both teams: the Lions’ Jakov Novak (with 5 points) and the Royals’ Ryan Chyzowski (with 4 points). The big question on all our minds: Will the Lions remain undefeated after this game?
We could feel the tension between the two teams after just the first few minutes of play. Trois-Rivières’ Cedric Montminy and Reading’s Solag Bakich were each assessed fighting majors at the 4:15 mark, and later in the period the Lions’ Miguël Tourigny was sent off for cross-checking, and Nicolas Guay was assessed a hooking minor. However, the Royals were unable to capitalize with either man advantage opportunity. The Lions ended the period ahead in the shots on goal department having directed 10 shots at the Royals’ Nolan Maier compared to the eight shots Reading directed towards Joe Vrbetic. Hopes were high that the second period would produce more offence.
Both teams did indeed ratchet-up their offensive skills in the second period, with five goals being scored. Yvan Mongo opened the scoring for the Royals with an assist going to Austin Master (his first professional point). A few minutes later, Joseph Nardi scored to double Reading’s lead. The Lions found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being down two goals, but in the 14th minute Anthony Beauregard kickstarted the Lions' offensive machine with his third goal of the season with an assist going to Matthew Boucher to make the score 2-1. Later in the period it was Justin Ducharme tying the game for the Lions with assists going to Tourigny and Chris Ortiz, but the Royals quickly responded when Chyzowski scored on a setup from Koletrane Wilson and Trevor Thurston. After 40 minutes of play, the Royals led 3-2.
The third period was somewhat calmer after the second period’s fireworks. The Lions were laser-focused to – at the very least – knot the game up, and they had a golden opportunity to do so when the Royals were assessed back-to-back penalties, giving the Lions a 5-on-3 man advantage. But Trois-Rivières could not capitalize, and it was only later in the period when Noah Laaouan scored at the 14:50 mark to even the game at 3-3, with assists going to Tourigny and Beauregard. Now it was on overtime.
With neither team scoring in overtime, it meant a shootout was required to settle the game’s outcome. Each team’s first three shots were saved by the two goalkeepers. But on the Lions' fourth attempt it was Tourigny who scored the only goal to give the Lions their fourth consecutive victory.