The Lions were finally back on home ice Friday night after two weekends spent away from Colisée Vidéotron, the first weekend in Maine against the Mariners and last weekend in Reading against the Royals. It was truly “Hockey Night in Canada” on Friday with the ECHL’s two Canadian teams facing off against one another with the Newfoundland Growlers in town. Both teams came into the game sporting similar records, with the Lions owning a 4-1 won-loss mark after five games and the Growlers at 4-2 after six games. Fans of both teams were excited to see which of the two teams would come out on top in the first game of their three-game weekend series.
The Lions opened the scoring in the first period when Nolan Yaremko (who played his first AHL game for the Laval Rocket on Wednesday night at Place Bell) notched his third of the season at 9:47 on a shorthanded effort with teammate Ty Smilanic in the box serving a two-minute minor for interference. The Growlers evened things up four minutes later when Neil Shea scored his third of the season with assists going to Keenan Suthers (his first point with the Growlers) and Cory Dennis. The Lions did have the edge in shots on goal in the first period, however, 12 to 8.
The Lions' offensive juggernaut then kickstarted in the second period, with Trois-Rivières scoring three goals. Matthew Boucher scored his sixth of the season on a terrific wrist shot after being set up by defenceman Christopher Ortiz and forward Anthony Beauregard. Then Beauregard scored a goal of his own with an assist going to Nicolas Larivière (his first point of the season). And as the period was winding down, defenceman Markuss Komuls registered his first goal of the campaign. Only one penalty was assessed in the period when the Growlers’ Grant Cruikshank was called for tripping. It was now to be determined if the Lions could hold on to their three-goal lead in the third period.
Despite being penalized three times in the third, the Lions were able to safeguard their lead. The first two Lions’ penalties were given within 30 seconds of one another, with Miguël Tourigny going off for slashing and then Boucher for high sticking. However, the Growlers couldn’t capitalize on their 5-on-3 advantage. Then at the 12:47 mark Trois-Rivières’ Smilanic received a two-minute minor for slashing. The Lions remained focused and killed off Smilanic’s penalty to seal the game’s outcome and finished the night outshooting Newfoundland 33 to 26. The second game of the three-game series is Saturday afternoon with puck drop at 3:00 p.m. Will the Lions make it two in a row against their Canadian counterparts, or will Newfoundland even the series at a game a piece?