It was only the second of three games in three days between the Maine Mariners and Trois-Rivières Lions, but familiarity is already breeding contempt between these ECHL teams.

A close game became chippy, and the teams combined for 36 minutes in penalties in the final period, including a game misconduct to the Lions’ Cedric Montminy for leaving the bench and continuing a fight with Maine’s Cam Askew after officials had separated the two.

Despite a late power-play chance, Maine could not overcome an early two-goal deficit, falling to the Lions, 3-2.

“We played them probably 14 or 15 games last season, too. I think tempers are a little higher, because we’re coming right out of preseason. Everyone’s raring to go, and there’s a lot of energy in the building,” said Terrence Wallin, Maine’s first-year head coach.

With the team not selling seats behind the Center Street goal this season, the attendance of 5,386 was a sellout – the first since the Mariners began play in 2018. These teams play again at 3 p.m. Sunday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Both teams made the 5 1/2-hour overnight bus ride from Trois-Rivières in Quebec to Portland, arriving around 5 a.m. Maine won the season opener Friday night, 4-3 in overtime.


The Lions took the early lead with a pair of goals in the first period.

William LeBlanc’s unassisted goal at 9:02 got it started. With Maine’s Marc-Oliver Duquette in the penalty box for boarding, Colin Bilek took a Brett Stapley pass and fired a quick shot from between the circles past goalie Francois Brassard at 14:25 for a 2-0 lead.

“That’s what I just said to the guys, we can control our starts, and we have to be better with our starts. Come out on our toes and not on our heels,” Wallin said.

The Mariners got a goal back late in the second period when Mathew Santos scored on the rebound of a Nick Master shot at 18:01. Maine had other chances late in the second, but Santos, who led the Mariners in scoring last season with 26 goals and 33 assists in 59 games, was stopped with 4:30 left when Joe Vrbetic made a nice right pad save. Just over a minute later, Tim Doherty had a chance when the puck deflected to him alone in front of the net, but he fanned on the shot.

The Lions added to their lead 5:30 into the third period when Bilek poked in a puck that Brassard was unable to cover up. The Mariners made it a one-goal game again at 9:47 when Askew’s power-play shot trickled past Vrbetic, who was flat on his back trying to make the save.

Vrbetic finished with 32 saves, while Brassard stopped 22 shots.

While pleased with his team’s effort, especially over the final two periods, Wallin said the Mariners need to work harder in front of the net to generate scoring opportunities.

“In the end, we’re going to have to pay the price a little bit more to put pucks in the back of the net, but I liked our effort overall offensively,” Wallin said. “I thought the second and third were really good periods for us offensively. We created a lot more.”

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