On the heels of 4-3 loss to Collège Notre-Dame Saturday night, the Lac St. Louis Midget AAA Lions came back strong with a 8-4 victory over the Lévis Commandeurs Sunday afternoon. Offensive leader Anthony De Luca played heroes as he recorded a hat trick Sunday but it was a victory that didn't come easy for the Lions.
Late in the first period, the Commandeurs had taken a 3-1 lead thanks to goals by Samuel Morissette and a pair by Carl Marois including one on the penalty killing. With a two-goal lead and 38 seconds to go in the first period, Jasmin Boutet injured the Lions' Vimal Sukumaran with a hit to the head. Boutet was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct and from that point on, momentum changed.
Sukumaran had to be escorted off the ice and was transported to the hospital and his unfortunate departure transported his team to another level of play as soon as the second period started.
"I think it's clear that it was the turning point in the game. It is an unacceptable gesture by our player. A hit like that when you've got a two-goal lead can turn sour for you especially against a good team like that. It is unfortunate that we pay the price collectively for the lack of judgment of one. We woke up the sleeping lion. The Lions ate us alive for the rest of the game," said Commandeurs head coach Adam Thériault.
Fifty-one seconds into the second period, De Luca scored his first goal of the game on the power play. Max Côté set him up perfectly with a reverse pass and De Luca's shot was precise to beat goalie Alex St. Pierre. Côté would score on a three-on-two rush with De Luca and Ryan Patulli at 12:23 to even the score.
Indiscipline would cost the Commandeurs again later three minutes later when Robert Mackenzie scored during a one-man advantage to put the Lions ahead by one at 4-3. After a third unanswered goal by Neil Robinson at 5:20 of the third period, the Lions took a three-goal lead when De Luca scored his second of the game, again on the power play at 6:57.
Trying hard to bring his team back in the game, Marois completed a hat trick 26 seconds later to put the score at 6-4 but the Lions held on for the rest of the game, notably killing a four-minute penalty at mid-period before nailing the coffin shut with two late-period goals, one of which by Anthony De Luca who recorded the hat trick with his 47th tally of the season.
Lions' head coach Jon Goyens agreed after the game that Vimal Sukumaran's injury had proved a turning point in the game.
"We told the players, ‘listen, this can represent a distraction but the best way to get revenge for Vimal is to start playing our style of hockey.' We started putting pucks on the net, we started hitting like Vimal usually does. We were effective in aiming for the team victory instead of going for revenge hits. We played very well in the second and third period," he said.