The LaSalle Vipers made a valiant comeback, but ultimately ran out of time and the London Nationals took Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night in London.
Trailing 4-0 after 40 minutes of play, LaSalle got goals from Ray Hamlin, Stephane Crevier, and Hayden Heinrich, with Heinrich’s goal coming at 13:52 of the third period. A penalty call on Hamlin allowed London to fend off two of the remaining six minutes more comfortably and Aaron Shaw just missed on a glorious chance in the final minute of play to allow London to escape with the narrow 4-3 victory.
With Matthew Sbrocca injured and Sami Molu serving the final game of a four-game suspension, head coach John Nelson was forced to call upon an emergency AP goalie Jax D’Hondt who just finished his season with the Jr. C Essex 73’s. D’Hondt played well throughout the game and helped fend off the Nationals in a scoreless first period. As has been the case in previous games however, the Nationals took control of the game in the second period with four goals which ended up being one too many to come back from.
Despite the defeat, the Vipers will have positives to draw on, along with momentum from their comeback as the teams head into Game 2 on Friday night in LaSalle.