By Gary Rennie
The LaSalle Vipers dominated another penalty-filled game with a 6-3 win Saturday over the Sarnia Legionnaires at the Vollmer Centre to go up 2-0 in the first-round playoff series.
With a four-point performance from captain Brett Vorshuk leading the way, the Vipers won the special teams’ battles, scoring four on the power play but giving up two shorthanded.
Both teams took 13 penalties, with the biggest scrum coming late in the second period with five players going off for roughing after the whistle.
Vipers’ goalie Jackson Bernard stopped 22 of 25 shots for the win. The third game in the series is today (March 3) in Sarnia.
“We feel real confident with our special teams’ play,” said coach John Nelson. “We capitalized on our power play.”
A physical series with the Legionnaires wasn’t a surprise, Nelson said, given the tight games during the regular season. He’s expecting to see some of the on-ice battles leading to penalties, but the post-game message was to limit visits to the penalty box with unnecessary behind the play hooks or slashes. “We want to play on the edge. but not go over the edge.”
Nelson praised the leadership coming from Vorshuk on the ice, on the bench, and in the locker room. “He’s having a good series.”
Vorshuk likes the can-win confidence teammates are bringing to each game. “It’s just a matter of playing 60 minutes,” he said.
Vipers’ defence man Dylan Robinson had three assists, despite playing the previous night for the Windsor Spitfires in Guelph. (He had a third period goal and an assist in the Spitfires’ 11-4 road loss.)
Sarnia’s Jake Vince opened the scoring on the power play early in the first period. But Zane Dalpe tied it up with about six minutes left in the period, with assists from Vorshuk and A.J. Ryan.
About two minutes later, Ryan’s power play goal gave the Vipers the lead, with assists from Kory Silverio and Robinson.
Vorshuk’s power play goal early in the second padded the lead, with assists from Jack Bowler and Robinson.
Stephane Crevier’s power play goal just over a minute later, proved the game winner, with assists from Evan Ferguson and Robinson.
Sarnia’s Alec DeKoning narrowed the gap with a second period, power play goal. But Silverio restored the three-goal lead before the period ended, burying a pass into the slot from Vorshuk with Aaron Shaw also assisting on the play.
The Vipers killed off a four-minute spearing penalty to Shaw early in the third period to smother the Legionnaires’ chances of a comeback.
Bowler’s power play goal late in the third made it 6-2, with assists from Crevier and Vorshuk.
Sarnia’s Logan McLinchey got an unassisted goal with a steal in the Vipers’ end with about two minutes left to close out the scoring.
LaSalle outshot Sarnia 34-25, but a 15-7 edge in the second period was the big difference.
Sarnia’s Jakob Knowles stopped 20 of 25 shots over two periods and in relief Nolan DeKoning stopped 8 of 9 in third period.
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