Lions looking for more playoff magic in midget AAA hockey final
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
The Lac St-Louis Lions will need some more playoff magic to tilt the Quebec midget AAA playoffs finals in their favour.
The Lions trail the best-of-seven series 2-0 after a 6-3 loss to the Magog Cantonniers on Sunday in Magog.
Magog sniper Alexandre Doucet led the Cantonniers with a hat-trick, with all three goals coming on the power play.
Game 3 of the Jimmy Ferrari Cup is set for Wednesday at the Dollard Civic Centre. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
Lions coach Jon Goyens said his team has to regroup after losing the first two games on the road, including a tough 4-3 overtime loss Friday in the series opener.
The Lions reached the finals after knocking off the heavily favoured Lévis Chevaliers, the toast of Canadian midget hockey this season.
The powerhouse Chevaliers (41-1-0) lost once all season, before being derailed by the Lions who won the series 3-2 with a dramatic 5-4 overtime win last week.
Goyens, who collected his league-record 75th playoff win with the OT upset against Lévis, pointed out his team has faced adversity throughout the playoffs, particularly when it comes to special teams play.
The Lions have been penalized a whopping 66 times, compared to 25 for their opponents in 14 post-season games.
And Magog’s vaunted power play has been the difference in the series so far.
“We have to play the cards we’re dealt,” said Goyens, who pointed out his team’s penalty kill unit has done a solid job, till the finals.
“We have to play those situations to the fullest and not let the emotional aspects get to us. The reason behind that is there is some frustration. A lot of it is warranted, but the reality is we can’t let it get to us.”
The Lions have scored an eye-catching six shorthanded goals in these playoffs — but none yet against the Cantonniers, who are looking to advance to their second consecutive Telus Cup national midget championship.
Blocking their way is Lions netminder Devon Levi, who frustrated waves of Chevaliers sharpshooters in the semifinals.
Goyens said his star goalie “just needs him to be who he is, which is sharp, which he’s been all year. He’s definitely been our backbone.”
Up front the Lions are led by first-year playoff sensation James Malatesta, who leads all midget AAA playoff scorers with 11-12-23 point totals in 14 games.
The speedy Malatesta also provides some sandpaper, said Goyens who affectionately calls him our “Brad Marchand-type player”, an ode to the Boston Bruins’ high-scoring super pest.
“He’s a gamer,” Goyens said of Malatesta, who missed a big chunk of the regular season with a leg injury.
Along with forwards Matt Choupani, Christopher Duchesne, Dovar Tinling and Kerfalla Toure, the Lions boast five of the league’s top 10 playoff scorers.
But Goyens couldn’t tell you how many goals each of them have as the playoffs move into its final ‘do-or-die’ phase.
“To be honest, I’m just focused on helping our guys win hockey games right now,” he said. “We’ve got three lines that can contribute, score, grind you down and do whatever it takes to win hockey games. That’s been our strength.”
After slaying the league-leading Chevaliers last week, Goyens said the Cantonniers, who finished second overall at 34-8-0, represent another huge challenge for the Lions, who went 24-18-0 during the season.
“The reality is Magog is right up there with Lévis,” Goyens said.
Game 4 will be played Thursday (7 p.m.) in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Game 5 is scheduled for April 7 in Magog (1:30 p.m.).