The Lions de Trois-Rivières played arguably their best game of the first round playoffs thus far, winning 3-2, and in the process avoiding elimination and sending the series back to Newfoundland.
Shawn St-Amant did not return to the lineup after being knocked out of Game 4 within the first minutes by a headshot behind the play. Lions head coach Eric Belanger confirmed that St-Amant would not be making the trip to Newfoundland with the team to finish out the series.
In his place, Jonathan Joannette was inserted into the Lions lineup, making his post-season debut. Joannette does not have the skill set of St-Amant, but does bring a level of tenacity and truculence which he displayed early and often in the game, getting in the heads of the Growlers and goaltender Keith Petruzzelli.
A big return for the Lions was defenceman Olivier Galipeau, coming back after being injured in the first game of the series. The difference he made on the back end was immense. It seemed like he was always on the ice, and was the Lions’ best defenceman on the night, playing in all situations. Any signs of an injury were certainly not visible in his play.
The Lions didn’t get on the board first as Tyler Bolland continued to play solid hockey for the Growlers. He scored the first goal of the game three-minutes in, as the spectre of elimination hovered over the 3,000-plus who attended the game at Colisée Vidéotron.
The Lions displayed a lot of character, with Alexandre Fortin, Tim Vanstone, and Max Kaufman playing excellent games.
It was Alexis D’Aoust who wowed the crowd, with two breakaway goals, the first one coming four minutes after the Growlers had taken the lead, on a nifty solo effort where he deked out two Growler defenders as the rest of his linemates were changing.
Mais quel jeu de d'Aoust !! 1-1— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) April 30, 2022
What a play from d'Aoust!! 1-1 pic.twitter.com/HKUt2JAhp1
The rest of the first period was the Petruzzelli show, as the visiting goalie fought off numerous opportunities by the Lions, who absolutely established momentum supremacy after the D’Aoust goal.
A goalmouth scramble even led Petruzzelli to drop the gloves to get ready to fight Anthony Nellis, who was shoved on top of him by a Growler defender. Completely tilting, Petruzzelli then gave Olivier Archambault a cross-check to the back after the latter fired off a late shot after the buzzer. Both were given minor penalties to finish the first frame.
The second period was fought a lot harder by both teams, with emotions staying relatively under control after the fracas in the first period. The Lions continually shot themselves in the foot, however, as every time they had a power play they would negate it with a penalty of their own. It happened three times in the second period alone, and was especially damaging on a four-minute high-sticking powernplay where the Lions were called for two seperate minor penalties.
Sure enough, if you play with fire you are going to get burned. The momentum swung to the Growlers, who began to pressure a Lions team that was chasing its own tail trying to get organized. Bolland scored a second goal in the game on a broken defensive play.
But the Lions turned on the jets immediately after the goal, and scored the equalizer less than 30 seconds later, as Cedric Montminy deflected a point shot by Mathieu Brodeur.
Il n'a fallu que quelques secondes à notre capitaine CÉDRIC MONTMINY, pour égaliser la marque entre les 2 équipes !— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) May 1, 2022
It only took a few seconds for our captain CÉDRIC MONTMINY, to tie the score between the 2 teams! pic.twitter.com/8nekw8bfIS
The third period was Philippe Desrosiers’s time to shine, as he displayed the kind of form and poise that earned him top marks in the first half of the season.
He did his part, as did Alexandre Fortin, who made a brilliant pass to a streaking D’Aoust to set up his second breakaway goal of the game, enrapturing the crowd and the announcers.
Son deuxième des séries, son deuxième du match ! ALEXIS D'AOUST donne l'avance aux Lions !!! Nos Lions prennent les devants 3-2— Lions de Trois-Rivières (@Lions3r) May 1, 2022
His second of the series, his second of the game! ALEXIS D'AOUST gives the Lions the lead!!! Our Lions take the lead 3-2 pic.twitter.com/rx3gbNSAZA
The Growlers received a power-play opportunity midway through the third period, but the Lions withstood the pressure, and aggressively forechecked to ensure that Petruzzelli couldn’t leave for the extra attacker. The Growlers only got the sixth skater on the ice with a minute left, but nothing came of it as the Lions earned the big win.
The series now head’s back to Newfoundland with Game 6 on Monday, and Game 7 scheduled for Tuesday.
Team leaders after five games:
- Anthony Nellis: 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist)
- Olivier Archambault: 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists)
- Peter Abbandonato: 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists)
- Four players with 3 points
- Philippe Desrosiers: 4.07 GAA, .882 Sv%