For the second straight game, the LaSalle Vipers rallied from a big deficit to come back and defeat the Chatham Maroons, this time to clinch the series victory.
Trailing 3-0, Andrew Kotevski’s power-play goal at 13:53 of the second period helped to ignite a potential comeback and rattle the Maroons who surely felt the pressure of having given up big leads to the Vipers in the regular season and in Game 4. Kotevski would again score on a power-play just 32 seconds into the third period and the big crowd of 982 fans at the Vollmer Complex could sense that the comeback was inevitable. And it was, with Ethan Martin tying the game with LaSalle’s third straight power-play tally, this one coming at 9:19 of the third. His equalizer gave the home team even more energy and five minutes later Spencer Lecot would score what turned out to be the game-winner. The Vipers captain followed up the good work of Patrick McManus by picking up his drop pass and neatly batting it out of the air past Maroons netminder Brett Fullerton to give his team their first lead of the night in thrilling fashion.
Chatham pulled Fullerton with 3 minutes left in regulation to try and come up with the late equalizer, but empty net goals by McManus and Owen Findlay closed the door on those hopes and the buzzer sounded on a 6-3 final score to give the Vipers a 4-1 series victory. The line of Kotevski, Martin, and Wylie Birkett had a big night with all three posting multi-point efforts, while Ian Michelone held the fort after his team fell behind, making 40 saves overall to earn his fourth win of the series.
The series demonstrated LaSalle’s abiity to come back in games, something they have been able to do with much success all season long. Falling behind in their next series however will not be a good idea, as the Vipers will now meet the Western Conference’s top team in the regular-season, the Leamington Flyers. The Vipers won the season series 4-2 over the Flyers in a set of games that certainly could have gone either way. The Flyers had little trouble dispelling the Sarnia Legionnaires in their first round series, sweeping the Legionnaires and earning themselves a full week of rest.
While the full schedule is still to be determined, Leamington will host Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, presumably on Thursday, March 16.