Another busy week for the LaSalle Vipers concluded on the weekend with the team splitting a pair of games against two of the league’s top teams.
Playing in London for the second straight Saturday night, the Vipers once again took it to the Nationals, winning by a 5-1 score for the second straight time. First period goals by Tanner Winegard and Patrick McManus put the Vipers up two after 20 minutes, and then an early second-period goal by Ethan Hamelin extended the lead to three.
A penalty-filled middle frame resulted in the Nats outshooting the Vipers 21-8 in the period, but goaltender Matthew Sbrocca was beaten just once on 21 shots. With the score at 3-1, Lee Knight restored the three-goal cushion with 29 seconds left in the period on a goal that really deflated London heading into the third. Jake Eaton scored his first career-goal late in regulation to close out the scoring in a 5-1 LaSalle victory.
Overall, Sbrocca made 45 saves to continue his stellar play of late and picking up his sixth win on the season in the process. The hot sticks of Noah Morneau and Nic Pavia continued to roll, with Morneau collecting three assists in the game, and Pavia registering two helpers of his own.
Faced with as tough of a back-to-back situation as they’ll see all year, the Vipers then had to turnaround and head to Chatham for an afternoon game with the third-place Maroons. With several key forwards out of the lineup, the Vipers put forth a solid effort, but ultimately could not do enough to slow down the Maroons on this day. Goals by Max Frattaroli and Noah Morneau brought LaSalle to within a goal each time, but each time the Maroons responded quickly to go back up by two. Outshooting the Vipers 49-31 overall, Chatham hit an empty net in the final minute and skated away with the 5-2 win.
The loss to Chatham snapped a five-game winning streak for the Vipers who are still in good position to move up in the standings. Trailing the fourth-place St. Marys Lincolns by one point and with a game in hand, the Vipers have a good opportunity to leap the Lincolns with three home games in the upcoming week. The team will play their regular Wednesday night home game against the St. Thomas Stars, and then will entertain the Stars again the following night. The week’s action concludes with another matchup with the London Nationals; this time in LaSalle on Saturday night.
Fans are reminded that Wednesday night’s home game is an LMHA night, where any player wearing a LaSalle Minor Hockey jersey will be granted free admission. Game-time is 7:00 PM.