By Gary Rennie
The LaSalle Vipers came out flying with a goal just over a minute into Tuesday’s game at the Vollmer Centre by rookie Zane Dalpe, followed by a flurry of good scoring chances by Kory Silverio and Jack Bowler.
But a pair of quick goals by London Nationals’ James Turner and Christian Polillo just 26 seconds apart midway into the first period deflated 700 fans’ hopes of a run-and-gun win.
Bowler tied the game about five minutes into the second period with a steal in the Nationals’ end and an unassisted goal.
Evan Ferguson, Aaron Shaw and Bowler again were in alone on Nationals’ goalie Zach Springer with great chances to score early in the second period, but were denied.
A tight game for about 30 minutes came apart with four unanswered goals by the Nationals, one in the second, and three more in a dominant third period and ultimately a 6-2 win.
“For the first 30 minutes of the game we played well,” said Vipers’ head coach John Nelson. “We got a little bit undisciplined, and against a team like that, as soon as you get undisciplined they’re going to take over the game on you.”
Game five in the second round series is in London Wednesday (March 20).
To force a game six back in LaSalle Friday, Nelson said the team has to build off the effort of Tuesday’s first 30 minutes and return to the defensive structure that worked well in the last game in London, a tight 2-1 loss.
The Vipers outshot London 10-9 in the first period; it was 9-9 in the second, but the Nationals had a 10-4 edge in the third to close it out.
Vipers’ goalie Will Tragge stopped 22 of 28 shots and Nationals’ Zach Springer stopped 21 of 23.
The Vipers were 0-3 on power play chances and gave up one goal on two penalty kills. Kory Silverio and A.J. Ryan had assists on Dalpe’s first period goal.
The Nationals’ last four goals came from Isiah Payne about 12 minutes into the second period, Turner’s second goal (on the power play) about eight minutes into the third period, followed by singles from Max Vinogradov, and George Diaco.