After trailing 3-0, the LaSalle Vipers were able to cut the lead to one early in the third period but could not come up with the equalizer and dropped Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series to the St. Marys Lincolns on Sunday afternoon in LaSalle.
Playing with only 10 forwards and missing a couple more key players on top of the team’s recent slew of injuries, the Vipers lacked the manpower and the energy to push the Lincolns who controlled most of the game. St. Marys outshot the Vipers 23-10 in the first period and 15-5 in the second and scored three times to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Not until the Vipers cut the lead to one late in the second on a flukey goal that the Lincolns put into their own net, did the momentum change slightly in favour of the home side.
The Vipers came out with more energy and belief in the third and got exactly what they would have hoped for when Drew Booker scored early in the period to get his team within a goal. They had a few chances to tie the game, including a close call with Knight just missing the net on a chance alone out front, but couldn’t get a third puck past Lincolns netminder Bryce Walcarius and the visitors skated away with the 3-2 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
Matthew Sbrocca continued to be far and away the best player in the series, stopping 47 shots and keeping his team in a game that they really had no business being in.
With the St. Marys win, the road team dominance between between the two sides extended to a remarkable nine games as home ice continues to be anything but an advantage. The Vipers will be looking forward to getting some bodies back for Game 4, including suspended forwards Patrick McManus and Wylie Birkett.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series goes Tuesday night in St. Marys with puck-drop set for 7:30 PM.