A spectacular goaltending performance by Matthew Sbrocca gave the LaSalle Vipers a chance, but they could not come up with the goal they needed in a narrow 1-0 loss to the St. Marys Lincolns in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday night in LaSalle.
The Lincolns scored the lone goal of the game at 1:18 of the first period on a point-shot that was deflected twice before hitting the back of the net. That flukey goal credited to Cole Schnittker was the only puck that would get by Sbrocca, as the Vipers netminder became the story of the game. In total he made 47 saves, thwarting the Lincolns on chance after chance, including a pair of breakaway saves in the third period to keep his team within one shot of tying the game.
Playing without five regular forwards in the lineup, the shorthanded Vipers were heavily out-shot and out-chanced, yet came close to tying the game with a few glorious scoring chances early in the third. St. Marys goaltender Bryce Walcarius was nowhere near as busy as his counterpart, but stopped all 23 shots he saw to pick up the win and the shutout.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series goes Friday night in St. Marys with game-time set for 7:30 PM.