The Leamington Flyers erased a two-goal deficit, scoring once in the second period and three times in the third to come back and defeat the LaSalle Vipers on Wednesday night in LaSalle. The bigger story however was the loss of another key Viper to injury.
Leading 2-0 early in the second after first-period goals by Max Frattaroli and Drew Booker, the game changed drastically when LaSalle captain Nic Pavia collapsed awkwardly at the side of the Leamington net and was left writhing in pain. Never one to lay on the ice unless seriously hurt, the captain’s screams of pain could be heard throughout the arena and much of the energy that had been built up by the home side up to that point was quickly drained.
Almost immediately following Pavia’s unsettling exit, the Flyers pounced on the deflated Vipers and turned the momentum in their favor. Jason Daraiche’s tally at 7:50 of the second period brought the visitors within one through 40 minutes of play and when the puck dropped for the third period it was clear that the Flyers were now the faster, hungrier team in the game.
They would tie it at 2-2 midway through the third, taking advantage of a missed penalty call on a hit from behind, leading to a Jack Cotter goal seconds later in the shift. Leamington’s continued pressure eventually paid off again on the game-winning goal coming off the stick of Kale Couvillon, who wired a perfect shot from the slot under the bar on Vipers goalie Kyle Downey. Pressing for the equalizer in the final minute, the Vipers felt another call went against them, as what appeared to be an obvious icing went uncalled and allowed the Flyers to seal the deal with an empty net goal.
Overall, the shots were 25-25, but the Flyers without question controlled the second half of the game. The win was their sixth straight, as they have not been beaten since losing to the Vipers on March 9.
Already without star forward Noah Morneau and veteran winger Ethan Hamelin for the long-term, Pavia’s loss is another massive blow for the Vipers. The team will have to continue to navigate the waters without their top three point-getters, including two of the league’s top players in Morneau and Pavia. The good news is that the team is confident in turning to their AP players, getting contributions from the likes of Max Frattaroli and Liam Hall up front, and Brady Hamlin and Lukas Samoila on the backend.
Leading St. Marys by one point for fourth-place in the Western Conference, the Vipers next game comes on Sunday afternoon in St. Marys in what will be one of the key games of their season.