Lions open midget AAA hockey season with pair of victories
Gerry Gomez made a successful coaching debut with the Lac St. Louis midget AAA Lions, winning the opening two games of the season.
Gerry Gomez couldn’t have asked for a better coaching debut with the Lac St. Louis Lions, who won their opening two games of the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League season
The Lions opened their 42-game regular-season schedule with a 4-2 road win over the Grenadiers in Châteauguay on Friday. The Lions improved to 2-0 Saturday with a thrilling 5-4 overtime over the St. Eustache Vikings at the Dollard Civic Centre.
First-year forward Markus Vidicek scored the OT winner, while Alex Van Houtte-Cachero contributed a goal and two assists.
On Friday, Van Houtte-Cachero, Robert Orr, William Blackburn and James Swan tallied for the Lions.
The Lions are a team in transition this season, starting behind the bench where Gomez takes over from long-time head coach Jon Goyens who is now the bench boss of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Gone, too, are some of the team’s top offensive players, including high-scoring forwards Matt Choupani, Christopher Duchesne and defenceman Dylan Finlay, who quarterbacked the team’s power play.
The Lions also saw two of their most talented 2003-born players move on. Forward Dovar Tinling has joined his older brother Azzaro with the CCHL’s Hawkesbury Hawks, while high-flying James Malatesta turned some heads by making the jump to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
Malatesta had been eying the U.S. college hockey route, but apparently fell in love with Quebec City’s charms and Patrick Roy’s Remparts while attending training camp.
Another big hole to fill will be in nets, where Dollard’s Devon Levi spent the past three seasons earning a reputation as one of the stingiest netminders in the league.
Levi, a commit of the University of Vermont Catamounts, has moved on to the Carleton Place Canadians of the CCHL junior circuit in Ontario.
That means the Lions’ goaltending duties will be handled this season by the tandem of Brady James and Gabriel Maheux.
Gomez said the Lions still have plenty of talent in their lineup but will likely do their “scoring by committee” this season.
The coach said returning players like Orr and Van Houtte-Cachero will add some scoring punch up front, while Gomez is also counting on a handful of newcomers to make their mark.
The Lions’ lineup will feature only two 17 year olds (or third-year midgets): Defenceman Kevin Pavlovic and forward Christopher Duclair, the younger brother of current NHLer and former Lion Anthony Duclair.
Gomez likes his group this season and says there is good chemistry amongst the players.
He said the captain’s “C” will alternate between Orr and Legault, but he expects to see others player step into leadership roles as the season progresses.
“This team has a lot of potential,” said Gomez. “We’re a deep team with three full lines. We’ve got some huge defencemen and some very fast forwards, and we should be hard to play against again this year.”
Charles-Alexis Legault, a 6-foot-3 blueliner from Pierrefonds who missed almost all of last season due to injury, is back this season, along with returnees Nick Pavan of Beaconsfield, Adam Cardona and Pavlovic.
The Lions will try to keep their early-season momentum going this weekend. They travel to Magog to play the Cantonniers on Friday (7 p.m.). On Saturday at 3 p.m., the Lions play host to Laval-Montreal in DDO.