Facing elimination for the second straight game, the LaSalle Vipers edged out the Chatham Maroons 5-3 on Saturday afternoon in Chatham and earned themselves a Game 7 on home ice on Sunday.
LaSalle struck first early in the opening stanza when relentless forechecking by Spencer Paradis was followed up by him making a slick feed to Jack Bowler who then buried the pass for a shorthanded marker. Lucas Fancy answered with a power-play marker and then answered Hayden Heinrich’s 2-1 goal with a shorthanded tally of his own during a five-minute power-play for the Vipers that was handed out after Chatham’s Evan Wells was assessed a game-misconduct for a heavy hit on Vipers defenseman Abdul Abouzeeni.
Never trailing in the game, the Vipers watched the Maroons answer yet another one-goal deficit early in the third period on Fancy’s second power-play goal of the game and third total to bring things level again at 3-3.
Despite the momentum swinging in favour of their opponents after that goal, the Vipers battled to stem the tide over the next few minutes and it paid off when Abouzeeni made a great play to hold the puck in at the offensive blueline and then let a shot go that was tipped in out front by Kyle Walker for the go-ahead goal at 10:13 of the final frame. Solid defensive play over the final nine minutes helped that goal become the game-winner once Aaron Shaw sealed it by hitting the empty net with 28 seconds to go.
LaSalle netminder Matt Sbrocca was a big factor in his team getting the victory as he stopped 39 shots, many of those coming in the second period where the Maroons pressured heavily and outshot the Vipers 22-10.
Although giving up two power-play goals against, LaSalle’s penalty-killing along with the play of Sbrocca was key as they faced seven shorthanded situations to just three for the Maroons. In Wednesday night’s Game 5 win, the Maroons held the advantage in power-play opportunities as well, with seven to the Vipers four.
Having staved off elimination in two straight games, the Vipers will need to do it for a third time, while the Maroons will now face their first elimination game in the series.
Game 7 in the Western Conference Quarterfinal series goes in LaSalle on Sunday afternoon with puck-drop scheduled for 2:30 PM