Lions News: ECHL, Trois-Rivieres Lions, Arturs Silovs, Anthony Beauregard, Ryan Francis, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Pascal Rheaume, Mark Weightman
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Trois-Rivieres Lions concluded their second season with a record of 29-40-3, ranking them sixth place in the North division and out of the ECHL playoffs.
Their 61 points is 13 less than the amount they earned in their inaugural season, when they finished third place in the division and led to a seven-game series exit against the Newfoundland Growlers in the first round of the playoffs.
One of the mandates for ECHL teams is to prepare players for higher levels. The Lions had several success stories this season in this facet.
Goalie Arturs Silovs became the second franchise alumni to play in the NHL when he started in net for the Vancouver Canucks on February 15th against the New York Rangers. Silovs played in 10 games for Trois-Rivieres in 2021-22. Cameron Hillis was the first to accomplish this task when he dressed for the Canadiens on January 1st, 2022 in Florida.
In addition, there were seven skaters and two goalies that played at least one game with the Lions and the Rocket. Forward Pierrick Dube and defenceman Olivier Galipeau had the most impact with Laval following their recalls.
There was also five players that dressed for Trois-Rivieres and an AHL team of another organization.
A panel of six media members covering the team (including myself) voted Anthony Beauregard as the Lions most valuable player. Beauregard set a new franchise record with 26 goals, and co-led the league with nine game-winning goals. The 27-year old led the forwards in ice time, best faceoff percentage, and had a key role on the power play units. He got the opportunity to dress for nine games with Laval, scoring one goal in a match against the Toronto Marlies.
Ryan Francis was voted the team’s rookie of the year after finishing the season with 47 points in 57 games. The Flames 2020 fifth round draft pick led the team with 10 power play goals. In January, he had four-game stint with Laval and obtained an assist for his first career AHL point.
Behind the Bench
On November 22nd, Eric Belanger unexpectedly resigned as head coach of the team and joined the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs the following day as their bench boss.
At the time of the announcement, Trois-Rivieres had a record of 6-6-1. General manager Marc-Andre Bergeron stepped in behind the bench on an interim basis until a replacement was found.
In February, Bergeron confirmed that he would remain the coach until the end of the season and hired Maxime Hamelin as recruiting coordinator and assistant general manager to assist in hockey operations.
At the end of season media availability, Bergevin admitted that he enjoyed coaching more than anticipated, but has not decided if he will keep the title next season. He will take the next couple of weeks to ponder on the topic.
If the former NHL defenceman steps away from the bench, Lions assistant coach Pascal Rheaume becomes a candidate for the role. Rheaume has been with the organization since inauguration and has previous coaching experience in the QMJHL and the AHL. His contract expired at the end of the season, but Rheaume has shown interest in the position.
New Incoming President
The Lions are in the process of searching for a new president as Mark Weightman left the team at the end of the season to accept the same role for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL. Deacon Sports & Entertainment, owners of the team, have begun the process to hire a replacement.
The incoming president will need to continue working on ticket sales for the upcoming season. This season, attendance at Colisee Videotron decreased by 13 percent versus the inaugural season.
Weightman was not concerned about the decline. “We have to put things in perspective. Regardless of the franchise, it is subject to a decline in its second year of existence. We had had the effect of novelty, of a new franchise, of a new arena and it brought a boom.” The Lions are proud of being in the ECHL’s top-10 for ticket revenues and season ticket holders.
It was not Weightman’s first experience starting a new franchise as he was the Laval Rocket’s first president. He noted that attendance at Place Bell dipped 18 percent in year two of the franchise.
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