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Frustrated Lions lose their cool, and Game 2

The series against the Growlers heads to Trois-Rivières as the Lions are down 2-0 in the best-of-seven.

After Friday’s lack of discipline cost them the game against one of the ECHL’s best power plays, the Lions de Trois-Rivières were hoping for a better outing in Game 2 of their playoff series against the Newfoundland Growlers.

They would have to do it without Alexis D’Aoust and Olivier Galipeau however, as both players were knocked out of the first game with upper-body injuries and were not able to return. Taking D’Aoust’s place in the lineup was Alexandre Fortin, who had missed the last five Lions games, while Connor Welsh was inserted to replace Galipeau.

It was Fortin who had the Lions’ first good chance of the game, but Growlers goaltender Keith Petruzzelli made a big blocker save. Chances were traded on both sides, as Lions goaltender Philippe Desrosiers made a few nice saves from shots from the slot.

One of the things that the Lions needed to do was to get on the scoreboard first, and they were successful as Shawn St-Amant put the Lions ahead halfway through the first period.

The Growlers would reply almost immediately, tying the game on a shot that got through Desrosiers with little screening.

The game was much more physical than the first game in the series, and that’s not always to the advantage of the Lions, as we saw several games this season where the physicality between the two teams would amp up and Mathieu Gagnon would line-step habitually, and sure enough the habitual line-stepper took three minor penalties, one in each period. Thankfully none cost the Lions, however they also took another seven minors in this game, just as in Game 1, which is a terrible strategy against the Growlers.

It wasn’t just penalty discipline that the Lions lacked, but also defensive discipline, as Ryan Chyzowski was left completely alone to score the go-ahead goal in the 18th minute of the first.

The second period started with incredible end-to-end saves by Desrosiers and Petruzzelli, who left the crowd of 5,300 in attendance breathless, As the game began to settle down, it was the Growlers who were emerging as the better team. As the Lions began to feel the pressure, they started to get frustrated and make mistakes. Anthony Nellis took a completely unnecessary penalty after the team complained about a missed call on the previous play. Then Cédric Montminy slashed at the head of a Growler that he just took down to give the opponent a two-man power play.

The Growlers were playing their standard game plan of poking at the Lions until they lost their cool and made stupid mistakes. We saw this strategy work numerous times during the season, and worked great for the Growlers on Saturday. They scored two more goals within 30 seconds of one another in the second period, as Desrosiers did not look good on either goal.

The Lions could not capitalize on three straight penalties by the Growlers afterward, including a 90-second two-man advantage, as the Lions became more focussed on scrums after the whistle as they lost control over their emotions.

Down three goals, the Lions started the third period on another penalty kill. Not long after the penalty, the Growlers scored another goal to go up 5-1. The Lions got another goal on the board, but it was not enough, losing the game 6-2, and falling 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Game 3 will be Tuesday at Trois-Rivières, where the Lions hope that some hometown cheer will change their fortunes.