Jack Greenwell’s goal at 5:58 of overtime lifted the gutsy LaSalle Vipers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Marys Lincolns in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Friday night in St. Marys.
In what was the most electric atmosphere of the season in front of a sold out crowd at the Pyramid Recreation Centre, those in attendance were treated to not only a fantastic hockey game, but also a display of will and determination from both teams. Gabe Barrette opened the scoring early in the second period for LaSalle, but had his goal answered by Lincolns defenseman Jordan Daer to leave the score at 1-1 through 40 minutes of play.
After an even shot total in the first two periods, the Lincolns pressured heavily in the third. They spent most of the period in the Vipers zone, forcing goaltender Matthew Sbrocca to make thirteen saves to just three on the other end for St. Marys netminder Bryce Walcarius. Sbrocca’s sensational play once again kept his teams hopes up despite fatigue visibly setting in, allowing them to catch their breath at the intermission before overtime.
Battered and bruised by injury and illness, the Vipers were playing with ten forwards for the second and third period after Patrick McManus left the game following a huge hit late in the second. One player who still had lively legs throughout the game however was the speedy Jack Greenwell, and after the Vipers killed an early penalty in overtime, the rookie forward ended the thrilling game by jumping on a rebound and narrowly getting it past Walcarius for the game-winner.
Sbrocca again was the x-factor, stopping 42 of 43 shots and denying a plethora of close calls around his crease to pick up his third win of the series.
In erasing a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7, the Vipers have showed tremendous character and resolve in dealing with the adversity that has met them at nearly every turn in the past month of hockey. They will now look to complete the comeback on Easter Sunday afternoon, with Game 7 set for 2:30 PM in LaSalle.