2) New Canadian Rivalry Culminates in Game 7 Victory
While the Growlers have enjoyed many heated rivalries during their short tenure in the ECHL, the 2021-22 season provided the Growlers with perhaps their biggest rival to date: the Trois-Riviéres Lions.
These two clubs were born to be rivals. Toronto Maple Leafs against the Montreal Canadiens. Literal cats versus dogs. The only two Canadian teams in the ECHL.
These Canadian foes clashed a whopping 14 times during the regular season with many contests ending with dramatic victories and plenty of penalty minutes.
Both teams had successful regular seasons in navigating their way through the treacherous North Division gauntlet, setting up a fitting matchup between the clubs in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Growlers started the series strong and cruised to a pair of wins at home to take a 2-0 series lead as the series shifted back to Quebec for the next three games.
At the Videotron Coliseum, the series momentum shifted. Buoyed by a vocal home crowd, the Lions struck back and won two of three games to force the series back to Newfoundland for Game Six.
The Lions continued to build momentum back on the Rock and won Game Six to force the first ever Game Seven in Canadian ECHL history.
And Game Seven proved to be an instant classic.
The Growlers jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead thanks to goals from Tyler Boland and Noel Hoefenmayer, but Lions leading scorer Anthony Nellis cut the deficit to just one heading into the decisive third period.
As the final frame began, the Growlers would not be denied.
Boland netted his second of the game early in the third period on a beautiful pass from Derian Plouffe to restore the two-goal lead, but the Lions would once again keep the game close with a power play goal from Hayden Shaw with under nine minutes left to play.
Ben Finkelstein ended any hopes of a comeback with his first goal of the postseason with just over five minutes remaining in the third period and Orrin Centazzo hit the empty net in the dying moments to secure the series victory for the Growlers.
The Growlers would win the game by a score of 5-2 to advance to the North Division Finals, but the real winners were the fans who saw the culmination of the hottest new rivalry in the ECHL, a rivalry that will surely continue to simmer as the years roll on.
Newfoundland kick off their fourth season of ECHL hockey on Friday, October 21 as they host their North Division rivals, the Reading Royals, at 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale now at nlgrowlers.com/tickets.