The Lions de Trois-Rivières lost the first game of their playoff series against the Newfoundland Growlers in front of 4,515 fans at the Mary Browne Centre in St. John’s by a score of 7-4. It was a game that was winnable, if not for the Lions’ lack of discipline.
The Lions got some bad news two days prior to the start of their playoff series against the Growlers when goaltender Arturs Silovs was recalled by the Vancouver Canucks to the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks, a knock-on effect of an injury to Jaroslav Halak. Since this recall came a day after the playoff rosters were announced, ECHL rules left the Lions with no choice but to sign an amateur tryout with Sébastien Lefebvre, a Concordia University graduate who hasn’t played since early 2020.
However, the good news outweighed the bad, as the Laval Rocket returned Peter Abbandonato and Olivier Galipeau, and Olivier Archambault and Shawn St-Amant were poised to return from injury along with defenceman Hayden Shaw, and they would play a big part in Game 1.
If the Lions were hoping to establish quick momentum in the first period, they did not go about the right way as they took three straight penalties in the first half. The Growlers eventually scored the first goal after the Lions killed off a full two-minute five-on-three, but Trois-Rivières quickly returned the favour, scoring 30 seconds later when St-Amant tipped a point shot from Josh Brook.
SHAWN ST-AMANT!!! Dès son retour, notre #28 égalise la marque dans ce match 1-1— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) April 22, 2022
SHAWN ST-AMANT!!! As soon as he returns, our #28 ties the score in this game 1-1 pic.twitter.com/3xFd25bj09
The Lions then added to the tally when a rebound from an Archambault shot went directly onto Julien Nantel’s stick, and he made no mistake getting the puck past Keith Petruzzelli to put the Lions ahead 2-1 after one period of play.
JULIEN NANTEL prend le rebond et c'est maintenant 2-1 pour nos Lions ! 2-1— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) April 22, 2022
JULIEN NANTEL takes the rebound and it's now 2-1 for our Lions! 2-1 pic.twitter.com/oVejqfxvRe
Penalty trouble continued to rear its ugly head for the Lions, as Bradley Johnson was called for tripping one minute into the second period, halting any momentum the Lions could have carried in. The Growlers scored on the ensuing power play to tie the game, and they continued to dominate, scoring two more goals in a terrible second period for the Lions.
With seconds left, Trois-Rivières got a glimmer of hope as Abbandonato slipped the puck between Petruzzelli’s legs after a feed from Nantel to bring the score within one.
PETER ABBANDONATO !! Notre #98 vient réduire l'écart entre les Growlers et les Lions ! 4-3— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) April 22, 2022
PETER ABBANDONATO ! Our #98 comes in to close the gap between the Growlers and the Lions! 4-3 pic.twitter.com/qc87rgWmvE
The Growlers were determined to not let the momentum slip away and they controlled the early play in the third period, scoring two minutes in to retake a two-goal lead, 5-3.
The Lions fought back to bring the game within one goal again, when St-Amant fed a perfect pass to Archambault on a two-on-one break with 12 minutes left to play. There was plenty of time to build up some momentum to find the tying goal.
ARCHY trouve le fond du filet 5-4— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) April 22, 2022
ARCHY finds the back of the net 5-4 pic.twitter.com/afz8rOLzMD
That’s not how things went, however. To the detriment of the Lions, and to the image of their game, Johnson drew another penalty on the ensuing faceoff, awarding the Growlers another power play, which they used to take a 6-4 lead.
Petruzzelli then shut the door for the Growlers, making numerous great saves on a furious Lions attempt to get back into the game. The Growlers added an empty-net goal with one second left, closing out the first game of the series.
The Lions were undisciplined, offering the Growlers numerous opportunities to take control of the game, which they gladly took. The Lions were their own worst enemy, as Newfoundland did seem disorganized at times, and Trois-Rivières was unable to capitalize, instead halting any momentum with their penalties.
Despite his three points, Olivier Archambault was a -1, and Shawn St-Amant, who also had three points, was a net zero.
Philippe Desrosiers made 35 saves in the loss.
Of significant note, both Alexis D’Aoust and Galipeau left the game and did not return, which could obviously be a huge loss for the Lions if the injuries are serious. Abbandonato also played brisk minutes in the third period, indicating possible injury in his case as well.
There’s no time to rest for the teams as Game 2 goes down later today, at 5:30 PM EST.