The LaSalle Vipers scored four times in the third period, erasing a two-goal deficit on their way to a 5-3 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chatham Maroons.
Chatham’s Josh Lepain and Vipers captain Spencer Lecot traded goals in a first period that saw the visitors getting the better of the play through 20 minutes of play. The Maroons would build on that momentum early in the second with Brayden Degelas scoring on a power-play, and then extending the lead to two on rookie forward Noah Mathieson’s first of the series less than three minutes later.
Starting the third period in a position that the team has become accustomed to and comfortable with, the Vipers no doubt drew on the experience of making comebacks against the Maroons, something they did on a couple different occasions in the regular-season. The comeback bid got some life early in the third when persistent work by the penalty-killing duo of Cole Davis and Patrick McManus resulted with Davis sneaking one by Chatham netminder Brett Fullerton for his first goal of the series. The turning point of the game then came quickly after that when the Maroons looked to have quickly restored their two-goal cushion, but Lepain’s would-be goal was called off due to goaltender interference.
The disallowed goal kept the momentum on the Vipers side and ignited even more energy into a big crowd of 920 fans at the Vollmer Complex. The home side would turn that energy into goals, starting with Brody Gillis putting home the equalizer off a beautiful pass by Jake Eaton to tie things up at 6:52 of the period. Less than a minute later, with Maroons forward Connor Paronuzzi in the box for head contact, LaSalle took their first lead of the night on a power-play marker by Wylie Birkett. Six minutes later, the line of Connor Tucker, Max Frattaroli, and Lee Knight were rewarded for their stellar play all game, with Knight neatly scoring his second of the series to give his team a two-goal advantage. The Vipers were able to shut things down in front of goaltender Ian Michelone and left the ice with a dramatic Game 4 victory and a 3-1 series lead.
Michelone held his ground to keep his team in the game, making 37 saves in total and allowing his team the chance to come back. A balanced offensive team all season, the Vipers got goals from five different players, with Spencer Lecot being the only skater in a white sweater with a multi-point game.
The two teams will now get a day off to recover from what was a physical and emotional game, particularly in the third period where the action completely ramped up with both teams laying it on the line. LaSalle will look to put the series away in Game 5 on Friday night back at the Vollmer Complex, with game-time set for 7:00 PM.