Now that the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs is over, it’s time for me to give you a retrospective of the Trois-Rivières Lions’ last season.
The big club hurt us.
As determined since year one, the Lions of Trois-Rivières is the little brother of the Laval Rocket, that is to say, the mini brother of the Montreal Canadiens. Every wave with the big club becomes a tsunami for the Lions.
This year, as much as last year, we have lived with the devastating effect of injuries to the Canadiens. But how much does it affect the Lions? If a player is injured and the Canadiens have to recall a guy from the Laval Rocket, this creates a hole in the AHL team’s roster, which opens the door to a recall of our guys from Trois- Rivers.
In Montreal, we saw guys like Jesse Ylonen, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, and Alex Belzile. It happens to be reminded of it, which allowed some guys from the Trois-Rivières team to make the jump to the AHL: John Parker-Jones, Riley McKay, Pierrick Dubé, Olivier Galipeau, Santino Centorame and our two goalkeepers who took turns Philippe Desrosiers and Joe Vrbetic.
A season below expectation
We will not hide it. At the start of the season, with the roster that Marc-André Bergeron built up throughout the summer, fans had high expectations for this second season in Trois-Rivières.
Coming from a first season that ended with a surprising run in the playoffs, the Lions, unfortunately, disappointed the fans, finishing sixth and penultimate in the North Division, 14 points from a place in the playoffs, thus accumulating a record below the .500 mark.
At least, on the positive side, we had a lot of players called up to Laval Rocket which is the main purpose of an ECHL affiliate team. We also had Anthony Beauregard, who beat the team record for goals in a season with 26 goals. Also, we saw Brett Stapley record an impressive 41 assists in the season, beating the team record.
Lots of work for the off-season
Many people wondered if the future of the Lions was in Trois-Rivières. Well, after a conversation with the owner of the team, Dean MacDonald, he confirmed to me that, indeed, the Lions are in Trois-Rivières to stay.
Mr. MacDonald is aware that the first two years of operation were tough. The first year due to Covid, which limited attendance at the Colisée Videotron throughout the season. The second year was challenging due to the team’s poor performance on the ice. Despite those pitfalls, he’s happy with where the team is right now.
On the other hand, a big summer awaits the owner. Indeed, the club must find a new president. Afterward, it will be interesting to see if he will keep Marc-André Bergeron as general manager, who had a lot of difficulty maintaining a stable alignment during these two years as GM in Trois-Rivières. After that, it will be necessary to find a team of trainers since, according to my sources, the contract of all the trainers expired at the end of the season. So will they keep their jobs? Will they all be back next year? Will Pascal Rhéaume finally have his chance at the helm of the Trois-Rivières’ team? These are all questions that remain unanswered.
As for the team on the ice, several players should be protected by the general manager; we only have to think of guys like Nicolas Larrivière, William Leblanc, and William Lemay, to mention only those. As for the players who cannot be protected this summer, we can see the name of the heart of the team appear, Cédrick Montminy, the captain since day one, who loses his rookie status in the league and therefore becomes free like air. However, the latter confirmed to us in an end-of-season interview that he wanted to stay in Quebec as a new dad. Will he be tempted to join the North American League to remain in Quebec, where his heart still leans towards the Trois-Rivières Lions?
So we can’t wait to see where the summer leads us. I hope we have positive news soon and know where the team is going. We have a huge summer ahead of us; follow us for more news as it comes