The Newfoundland Growlers kickstart their 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs this weekend with a matchup against a very familiar opponent and a major rival in the Trois-Riviéres Lions, beginning this Friday night at Mary Brown’s Centre.
Newfoundland have no shortage of game tape to revisit ahead of this all-Canadian clash, having played the Lions 14 times across the 2021-22 regular season. It’s been advantage Growlers in the season series to date as they boast a 10-3-1 record in their 14 prior meetings going into the postseason — their last matchup a 4-1 Newfoundland road win on March 17 at Colisée Vidéotron.
Despite a strong push down the stretch from Newfoundland, the Reading Royals held on to the top spot to secure home ice advantage and the North Division title, while the Growlers settled for 2nd place with a 42-20-4-1 overall record.
For the Lions, qualifying for the postseason came down to the final weekend of the regular season as their inaugural year concluded with the club in 3rd place thanks to a 34-29-5-1 record.
In a roller coaster campaign for both clubs, the head-to-head battle between the Growlers and Lions saw no shortage of fireworks across the last seven months. Fans on both sides should expect nothing different as the intensity only heightens with the postseason getting underway this weekend.
Puck drops is set for 7:00 pm on both Friday and Saturday evening. Growlers fans can watch these two games and the remainder of the series live on FloSports (subscription required), listen to the call on Mixlr, or follow along on Twitter (@NLGrowlers) for game updates and highlights. Tickets for games 1 and 2 at home and the rest of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs can be purchased at nlgrowlers.com/tickets.
THREE SERIES STORYLINES:
Battle between the pipes:
Strong goaltending has been a characteristic of both teams across the 2021-22 season and things are shaping up for a hotly contested head-to-head battle in round one between Phillipe Desrosiers and Keith Petruzzelli. While the Lions and Growlers have serviceable second options in Arturs Silovs and Rylan Parenteau respectively, the winner of this series could be determined by which starting netminder can elevate their game to a higher level.
Dream special teams:
As strong of an even-strength outfit as the Growlers were across the regular season, it was their special teams that helped them steal points on several occasions. With a 27.9% powerplay efficiency and penalty kill rate of 85.1%, Newfoundland led the ECHL in both departments in 2021-22. In a series where penalties might not be hard to come by, it could be advantage Growlers if they continue to excel in special team situations.
How nice is home ice?
After a grueling regular season, the Growlers won’t be getting a first-round cake walk against a fast and physical Lions group. The good news however is the series starts at the Mary Brown’s Centre for the opening two games where a strong start to the series before shifting to Trois-Riviéres for the following three could dictate which team advances to the next round.
“We’re happy that they have all their best players because it helps to show us where we are and if we’re able to move on, it’ll set the pace for what to expect moving forward.” — Head Coach Eric Wellwood
"The boys are excited for the challenge in front of us. We have a good rivalry here and it will be a hard fought series. We’ll need to be disciplined in all areas of the game and use our pace to be successful." — Assistant Captain Todd Skirving
FULL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Game 1 - FRIDAY, APRIL 22 @ 7 p.m.
Game 2 - SATURDAY, APRIL 23 @ 7 p.m.
Game 3 - TUESDAY, APRIL 26 @ 8:30 p.m. in Trois-Rivières
Game 4 - THURSDAY, APRIL 28 @ 8:30 p.m. in Trois-Rivières
*Game 5 - SATURDAY, APRIL 30 @ 8:30 p.m. in Trois-Rivières
*Game 6 - MONDAY, MAY 2 @ 7 p.m.
*Game 7 - TUESDAY, MAY 3 @ 7 p.m.