By Rob Benneian
(LaSALLE, ON) – It’s official. The LaSalle Vipers are headed to the Sutherland Cup Finals. After winning a hard-fought 7-game series against the Elmira Sugar Kings, the Vipers will meet the Golden Horseshoe champion Caledonia Corvairs, who knocked off the Western Conference champion Leamington Flyers in the other semi-final.
“It was a real proud moment to see the guys celebrate what they have accomplished,” said head coach Bill Bowler. “To be one of the last two standing, and going up against a team that has only lost three (playoff games), what a challenge and what a lot of fun.”
The defending Sutherland Cup champion Corvairs were the regular season champs, going 44-3-2. They followed that up by posting a 12-1-1 record in the playoffs before defeating the Flyers in five.
The Vipers, meanwhile, have taken a less conventional route to the finals, emerging as the Sutherland Cup wild card after finishing the regular season as the Western Conference’s fourth best team.
“On any given night everyone has had to step up,” Bowler said. “You don’t get to the finals without everyone pulling their weight. Everyone has risen to the occasion.”
Paolo Battisti, who stopped 37 shots in the game 7 victory against Elmira, agreed.
“Heading into this playoff run, a lot of people weren’t sure what would happen, but we’ve really come together,” said Battisti. “There’s been no quit with this team.”
The Vipers’ official slogan on Twitter is #NeverQuit.
The Vipers will begin the Sutherland Cup Final tonight on the road in Caledonia before retuning to LaSalle for game 2 on Friday at the Vollmer Centre. The puck drops at 7:00 pm.