Lions off to a shaky start in playoffs

François Lemieux
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Lac St. Louis trailing 2-1 in best-of-five series against Blizzard

The Lac St. Louis Midget AAA Lions are off to a shaky start in the second round of the 2012 playoffs having lost their two first games of their best-of-five series against Séminaire Saint-François Thursday (6-5) and Friday (4-2). The Lions regained life Sunday afternoon when they won 2-1 to avoid elimination and by press time, they were still trailing 2-1 in the series being poised to face the Blizzard Monday night for the fourth game of the series.

While goaltender Julien Larouche gave two bad goals in the two first periods and the Blizzard scored another one with a lot of traffic in front, the Lions were only able to pierce the tight Blizzard defence once. Too prone to individual play, the Lions were uncoordinated in offence, missing four opportunities on the power play until Anthony De Luca scored with less than two minutes to go in the third period to tighten the score at 3-2. But this would be too little too late as the Blizzard would score an empty-netter to secure its win.

“We have a team that plays well defensively. We’re excellent at five-on-five. We play our system well. We have players that play well both sides of the rink. We knew that Lac St. Louis had some punch in offence and that was part of our game plan. For the rest, it was a good team effort. This is the logical sequel to our season, we rarely give away three-on-two or two-on-ones situations,” said Blizzard head coach Bryan Lizotte after the game.

First period

After having lost 6-5 Thursday night, the Lions came out playing strong Friday as did the Blizzard. The Lions scored the first goal of the match when Francesco Iannantuono beat Benjamin Avoine-Jean with a precise wrister under the glove on a two-on-two descent at 2:42.

The Blizzard replied at 5:54 when goalie Julien Larouche dropped the puck from his glove after he’d made a save. Simon Desbiens simply pushed the puck past him to tie the score. The Lions only shot six times on goal during the first period while the Blizzard shot a total of 17 times.

Second period

The Lions obtained a quality opportunity to take back the lead in the beginning of the second period as the Blizzard’s Olivier Leblanc was penalized for a hit to the head of Anthony De Luca late in the first, a four-minute penalty. As they had been in the first period, the Lions proved ineffective on the power play despite putting four shots on goal.

The Lions were unable to pierce through the Blizzard’s defensive wall in the second period. At the other end, Larouche let in another bad goal at 6:07 when he seemed completely unprepared to face Desbiens’ shot from the slot as a lot of traffic was circulating in front. It was Desbiens’ second tally of the night. The Blizzard delivered a serious blow to the Lions at the very end when Carl Tremblay’s shot passed above Larouche’s head to make the score 3-1 with 16 seconds left in the second period.

The Lions played without desperation for the 15 first minutes of the third period. De Luca did score to make it a one-goal game with less than two minutes left but it would be too little too late as Charles-Éric Légaré scored an empty-netter to confirm the win.

Lac St. Louis head coach Jon Goyens was disappointed after his team’s loss Friday night.

“We haven’t played like we are used to. We didn’t play a single complete period under our style, with speed, offence and aggression. Right now, we are looking at them play their game but in a way, we are beating ourselves on the ice. We don’t follow the game plan, we don’t sacrifice our bodies in front of the net to block shots, to take body checks. These are all clichés but things we should be doing in the playoffs,” he said.

Geographic location: Lac St. Louis

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