The LaSalle Vipers saw their season come to an end at the hands of the Leamington Flyers, who came back from a two-goal deficit to take Game 4 and sweep the Western Conference Semifinal series on Wednesday night in LaSalle.
Flyers star forward Connor MacPherson returned to the lineup after leaving Game 1 early with an injury and tallied the equalier, the eventual game-winner, and the insurance marker into an empty-net to lead his team back from a 3-2 deficit through 40 minutes. The Vipers twice held leads of two, starting with first period goals by Cole Davis and Brady Hamlin, and then again when Carson Woodall restored the two-goal lead on a shorthanded breakaway to answer an Owen Holmes goal for Leamington two minutes prior. Holmes would score his second of the game at 12:15 of the second to get his team back within one and set the stage for their third peiod comeback.
LaSalle won four of the six matchups between the two teams in the regular-season, but it was the Flyers who were able to elevate their game to a higher level in this playoff series. MacPherson’s return to the lineup in Game 4 bolstered an already potent Flyers attack, with speed and skill that proved to be too much for the Vipers over the four games. And when Connor was unavailable through the first three games, his brother Ryan more than picked up his slack, scoring four goals and adding six assists for 10 points in the four games. On LaSalle’s end, rookie defenseman Carson Woodall capped off his impressive first junior season by further turning heads with his stellar play throughout the series. The Windsor Spitfires prospect, registered two goals and dished out three assists and was easily the best Viper in the series.
With their victory, the Flyers now advance to the Western Conference Final, where they will meet a St. Marys Lincolns team who bagged a surprising series-sweep of their own over the London Nationals.
Once the disappointment of their elimination wears off, the Vipers will be able to look back on what was a very successful season. Their 33 wins in the regular-season was the most by a Vipers outfit since the 2016-17 season, despite still being one of the youngest teams in all of the GOJHL. They also saw seven players get called up to the Windsor Spitfires, a total that was by far the most in the league. Talented 16-year-olds Cole Davis and Carson Woodall brought fans out of their seats all season long, while the leadership and skill of captain Spencer Lecot helped guide the team to a first-round playoff victory over the Chatham Maroons. Lecot is the lone graduating player on the roster, with everyone else eligible to return next season.
The entire LaSalle Vipers organization thanks all the fans and volunteers for their support and effort throughout season, and look forward to celebrating at the upcoming year-end banquet.