The Lions men's hockey team won two of their three games, last weekend in Trois-Rivieres, and finished in first place of their pool, thus qualifying for the Provincial Championships which will be held next weekend in Sherbrooke.
In their first game, the Lions took on the Sorel Rebelles. Even though this was only the first game of the weekend, Coach Labadie knew that this game could be the decisive game for his men. The Lions pool was composed of, regular season champs, Alma, Sorel, who after winning the Quebec Showcase in mid-January, went on to win 11 of their 14 regular games after Christmas to finish fourth in the league, Andre-Laurendeau and St. Lawrence. Only two of these four team could qualify for the Provincials, and this fourth versus fifth place game could decide which of the two would go through to the Provincials.
The Lions looked well prepared for this contest. They took control of the match early by scoring the first goal halfway through the first period. However, Sorel never let the Lions get away and came back to tie the game each time the Lions took the lead. That is until, with 5 minutes left in the game, Jean-Philippe Sansfacon broke loose while the Lions were killing a penalty. Sansfacon did not miss this opportunity and gave the Lions a much needed 2 goal lead and steered the Lions towards a 5-3 win.
The second game matched St. Lawrence up against the regular-season champs, Alam Jeannois, who had been upset by eighth Andre-Laurendeau the night before. The Lions looked to have a great start to the game, drawing a penalty 10 seconds in, but while attacking whith a sixth skater on, while goalie Thierry Tremblay had gone of the ice on the delayed penalty, a pass from a Lions defenceman went off an Alma players skate and the puck found its way into the net, giving the Jeannois a 1-0 lead and the momentum they needed. This bad bounce took the wind completerly out of the Lions sails and directly into Alma's. The Jeannois took three goal lead, halfway through the second period. At that point, JP Sansfacon once again broke loose on the penalty kill and scored what seemed to be the momentum changer. With regained energy, the Lions looked like they were back into the game. But no the bad luck continued with the referee disallowing the goal, claiming he had blown the whistle before the puck went over the red line. Alma took advantage of this to score their fourth goal on the ensuing faceoff and never looked back. The Lions Lions lack of discipline prevented them from coming back into the game. Simon Cyr-Rochette scored a late goal in the third period to avoid the shutout. Final Score Alma 4-Lions 1.
This setup a winner goes through, looser goes home match-up against Andre-Laurendeau. The Lions won all four games against the Boomerang during the regular season, but Andre-Laurendeau is by far the most improved team in the league, as their 2 previous games in the weekend showed. They had beaten Alma, and given Sorel a run for their money loosing 2-1 on a late goal by the Rebels. The beginning of the game saw 2 teams not willing to take too many risks being afraid the opponent would take advantage of unforced errors. Halfway through the period, Vincent Boivin scores to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. That was the score after the first period. Dominic Lampron scored his first goal in five games early in the second period to give the Lions a 2-goal lead, but Andre-Laurendeau responded 7 seconds later to draw within 1 goal. The Boomerang scored two more to take a 3-2 lead and you could sense the stress among the Lions faithful. The Boomerang had scored three goals in less than 5 minutes, and you could feel momentum slipping away from the Lions. But Dominic Lampron brought the teams back to square one with his second late in the second period, sending the 2 teams to their locker rooms with a 3-3 tie.
The Lions took the lead again with 12 minutes left in the game, when Simon Cyr-Rochette deflected a shot from the point, scoring a rare powerplay goal for the Lions. It looked like the Lions had taken over the game. They played a tight defensive coverage, causing turnovers, but could not take advantage of the many chances they had after that. With 5 minutes left, the Lions lost a key face-off in their zone, and the Boomerang took advantage of it right away tying up the game at 4. But Dominic Lampron scored his third goal of the game 2 minutes later to give the Lions the lead again. All seemed to be going the Lions way once again. With less than 30 seconds left, JP Sansfacon seemed to be skating to a sure empty net goal to consolidate the lead, but was called off-sides going into the offensive zone. Right off the face off, the Boomerang dumped the puck into the Lions zone, goalie Thierry Tremblay was skating to the back of his net to stop the puck, but a strange bounce off the boards sent the puck right into the crease with Tremblay out of position. A Boomerang skater seemed to have a sure tying goal on his stick, but Tremblay came out of nowhere diving to make the save and assuring the win. Final Score: Lions 5 - Boomerang 4.
Next stop for Coach Labadie's men, Sherbrooke, where they will be playing the Lafleche Dragons on Saturday, for a birth into Sunday's final. GOOD LUCK!!!!