By Rob Benneian
(LaSALLE, ON) – The LaSalle Vipers were the most decorated team Monday night at the GOJHL Western Conference awards banquet in London. The Vipers players and coaching staff won a total of seven awards and were nominated for several others.
First-year skaters Devon Paliani and Andrew Burns were named to the Rookie All Star Team, while captain Dylan Denomme was named a First Team All Star. Paliani was also named Rookie of the Year, while Burns took home Most Outstanding First Year Defenceman honours.
Mark Manchurek earned the distinction of top rookie scorer.
The Vipers coaching staff, led by head coach Bill Bowler, won the Coaching Staff of the Year award. Bowler’s staff, which includes assistant coaches Brad Meredith and Kyle O’Neil, won the award for the second consecutive season.
Veteran forward Brendan McCann was nominated as the league’s best defensive forward, while forward Aaron Luchuk, defencemen Brett Langlois, Nate Veres, and Austin Hall, and goaltender Cameron Zanussi were all nominated for the all-star teams.
Goaltender Paolo Battisti was named GOJHL Western Conference Goaltender of the Month for February.
The LaSalle Vipers will begin their quest for the Sutherland Cup tonight when the St Thomas Stars visit for Game 1 of the GOJHL playoffs opening round series.
The Vipers owned the regular season series against the Stars, winning all six games and outscoring the St Thomas 26-14.
The Vipers, who will have home ice advantage through at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, have been lights out at the Vollmer Centre this season, compiling a 20-3-2 home record. The second home game of the series is Sunday, March 2 at 2:30 pm.
If necessary, the third home game, Game 5 overall, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 pm. If a Game 7 is necessary, it would be Sunday, March 9 at 2:30 pm, at the Vollmer Centre.