By Rob Benneian
(LaSALLE, ON) – The LaSalle Vipers won a hotly contested match with a bitter rival, defeating the reigning champion and first place Leamington Flyers 5-3 Wednesday night at the Vollmer Centre in front of 841 fans.
The Vipers had to overcome an early deficit, as the Flyers took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
“We were happy with the way we played,” Vipers head coach Bill Bowler says of a first period that saw LaSalle outshoot Leamington 12-6. “Our leadership group took charge and we came out with a great start to the second and took over the game.”
Daniel Beaudoin sparked the Vipers comeback with a goal just 27 seconds into the middle frame. Shortly thereafter, Vipers defenseman Nicolas Crescenzi and Flyers captain Mitch Amante squared off in what was a decisive victory for the LaSalle blue liner.
Brendan Harrogate’s goal at 1:38 of the second tied the score and Tyler Russell’s goal 70 seconds later put the Vipers ahead for good. Korey Morgan’s short-handed goal at 6:10 would prove to be the eventual game-winner and capped a wild scoring outburst for LaSalle.
Morgan also scored an insurance marker early in the third period.
Vipers rookie defenseman Nick Gauvin squared off with Flyers veteran defender Blaine Bechard after the latter levelled LaSalle’s Russell with a vicious, high cross-check. Nathan Savage and Zak Parlette also dropped the mitts in a penalty-filled second period.
Paolo Battsti drew a pair of goaltender interference calls on overzealous Flyers attackers and made 27 saves for the win. Michael Barrett stopped 30 shots in the loss.
“You need good goaltending at any level and Paolo played very well for us,” Bowler says. ”
LaSalle, who have now won six of their last seven games, head to Sarnia Thursday night to face the Legionnaires.
“It’s a tough building and (we’re playing) back-to-back nights, but we welcome the challenge,” Bowler says of facing a Sarnia squad that currently sits in second place.
The Vipers return home to face the London Nationals Sunday afternoon. Join them after Sunday’s game for a meet and greet with the team at Joe Schmoe’s.