Connor Tucker’s goal at 16:05 of the third period broke a deadlock and lifted the LaSalle Vipers to a 2-1 victory over the Leamington Flyers on Thursday night in Leamington.
In what was the first meeting of the season between the two rivals, Andrew Kotevski’s fourth goal of the year brought the Vipers level late in the second period. The LaSalle penalty-kill would then come up big early in the third as they would kill three straight penalties, including two different spans of 5-on-3 disadvantages. The successful penalty-killing was aided by the outstanding play of rookie goaltender Tre Altiman who would go on to stop all 21 shots he faced in the third period for a total of 46 on the night.
Altiman’s play set the stage for the eventual game-winner which began with a great forecheck by Adriano Tonin who won the puck off a Flyers defenseman and then found Connor Tucker all alone out front. Tucker then showed great patience, out-waiting Leamington netminder Bryce Walcarius and hitting the empty upper half of the net for his second goal in as many nights. Altiman and the Vipers would narrowly stave off all the Flyers attemps over the final four minutes to skate away with a 2-1 win in front of a big crowd in Leamington.
The Vipers week began the previous night when the club broke a two-game winless streak by defeating the Strathroy Rockets in what was another low-scoring game. Tre Altiman stopped all 22 shots he saw to pick up his first career shutout, with Spencer Lecot scoring the eventual game-winner in the second period. Lecot’s tally stood as the only goal until Connor Tucker hit an empty net for his first career goal at 18:40 of the third.
Having won the first two of what set up to be a challenging three-game week, the Vipers will close out the busy slate on Saturday night when they head to London to take on the first-place Nationals.