By Gary Rennie
LONDON – Will Tragge was a wall for the LaSalle Vipers facing a 46-shot barrage in a battle of goalies as the London Nationals eked out a 2-1 win Saturday.
But the Vipers had more than enough chances to win it with Kory Silverio and Cody Schneider both in alone, but not beating Nationals’ goalie Zach Springer, who stopped 20 of 21 shots.
Springer and Tragge were named the game’s first and second stars, respectively.
All the scoring for both teams took place over about a three minute span in the second period.
Wes Dobbin put the Nationals up 1-0 near the start of the second. But the Vipers evened it up about two minutes later, swarming around the Nationals’ net.
Vipers’ defence man Gianluca Pizzuto pinched in deep and got a piece of a bouncing puck to trickle past Springer, with assists from Jack Bowler and Kyle Walker.
But just a minute later, George Diaco tapped in the winner for London on a power play.
“Tonight was a tough loss for us,” said Vipers’ head coach John Nelson who liked the way his team played on the international ice surface, compared to the opening game of the second round series (a 6-2 loss).
The shot totals were misleading, Nelson thought, with many coming from the perimeter as the Vipers forced shooters outside and cleared rebounds in front of Tragge.
Most of the shot differential came in a 20-2 first period as London kept the puck in the Vipers’ end. The Nationals’ shot edge was 13-8 in the second period and just 13-11 in the third period as the Vipers pressed to tie it up.
“We really had a commitment to defence tonight,” said Nelson. “We’re going in the right direction.”
The series returns to the Vollmer Centre, Tuesday, 7 p.m., with London up 2-1.
“We’re looking forward to having the crowd out,” said Nelson.
Each team took five penalties, but one was a 10-misconduct for London. LaSalle was 0-4 on the power play; London 1-5.