The LaSalle Vipers defeated the St. Marys Lincolns on Friday night in St. Marys, but could not muster enough energy to overcome the Strathroy Rockets the following night.
With the score tied at 1-1 late in the first period against the Lincolns, Nicholas Graniero scored a shorthanded goal to give the Vipers a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes of play. Stephane Crevier quickly followed that up with a power-play goal in the opening minute of the middle frame to give the visitors a two-goal cushion that they would not give up the rest of the night.
With the score at 3-2, Vipers defenseman Tanner Winegard scored his fifth goal of the season with just under three minutes to go in the second period to restore LaSalle’s two-goal lead. Goaltender Matt Sbrocca needed to make just seven stops in the third as the Vipers clamped down to skate away with the 4-2 road victory. The LaSalle special teams were a major key in the win, as they were able to get a power-play and a shorthanded goal, along with the penalty-kill going a perfect 9/9 on the night.
Facing a quick turnaround and another bus trip, the Vipers came up just a little short on Saturday night in Strathroy. Trailing by two goals in the third period, Spencer Lecot cut the Rockets lead to one with a nice individual effort with five minutes left in regulation. That is as close as they would get however as the Rockets hit the empty net twice in the final minute and change.
The game turned in the second period when Strathroy scored on consecutive power-play opportunities to take a 3-1 lead. LaSalle had their chance to get right back into it on a two-man advantage for a full two minutes, but were unable to capitalize. Nic Pavia scored the other Vipers goal, while Kyle Downey made 23 saves in the loss.
Compiling a 5-3 record in the month of February, the Vipers remain within striking distance of 5th and 4th place in the Western Conference as they head into a challenging schedule in March. The team will play 13 games in the month, including three games each against the top two teams in the standings, the London Nationals and Leamington Flyers.
The Vipers next home game is Wednesday, March 2 when they get another crack at the Strathroy Rockets.