Vipers lose their bite

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris February 9, 2018 12:34

LaSalle Vipers goalie, Dershahn Stewart, after a St.Thomas Stars goal (Photo by Jordan Ferris).

By Tate Harris 

Special teams helped the St. Thomas Stars keep the LaSalle Vipers away from a sixth straight victory.

It was a big game for LaSalle on Feb. 7 as they tried to add to their five-game winning streak and remain second in the standings.

The Vipers started the game strong having six shots on net, in the first 11 minutes, compared to the Stars’ two. One of the two shots for the Stars resulted in a power play goal for them, beginning the Vipers’ struggle on the penalty kill. The Vipers finished the night two for four on the penalty kill.

“I think what cost us was our penalty kill tonight and we gave up a goal on our power play, but that stuff happens,” said John Nelson, head coach of the LaSalle Vipers.

Momentum started to favour the Stars after Vipers’ Jack Bowler took a slashing penalty. The Vipers had no shots on goal in the remainder of the first period and St. Thomas’ Ryan Bang scored the second goal for the Stars.

Dershahn Stewart, the Vipers’ goaltender, is a main reason the game remained close. Stewart knew he had to remain focused if he was going to keep his team in the game.

“I just say to myself ‘the goal is over.’ I just got to come back out, see the next shot and save it,” said Stewart. “Then hopefully the boys can go out there and score.”

The second period began with energy-filled shifts by the Vipers. However, Stefan Dobrich, a Viper defensemen, made a dangerous hit at the 17:27 mark in the second period. His 10-minute boarding misconduct, and additional two-minute boarding minor, put the Vipers on the penalty kill again. Matt Couto scored the power play goal that gave the Stars a 3-0 lead.

With offensive opportunities in the second period for the Vipers, Gainluca Pizzuto finally scored the first goal of the game. A little more than six minutes later, Brett Vorshuk netted his 16th of the season and put the Vipers within one goal.

The third period saw a goaltending battle between Stewart and St. Thomas Stars goalie Anthony Hurtubise.

The Vipers had their best chance to tie the game after the Stars took a penalty at 13:56 in the third period. Not only were the Vipers unsuccessful during their power play, but Thomas McLatchie, a Stars forward, scored shorthanded.

McLatchie’s goal was the last goal of the night, making the final score 4-2.

Nelson said a loss like this is an opportunity for the team to get better.

“I just said to the guys, sometimes you need adversity to get better. You can’t always be perfect,” said Nelson. “You need some areas to improve on and we will do that tomorrow in practice. We just have to be ready to play.”

After the Vipers’ loss to St. Thomas, the Leamington Flyers were able to pass the Vipers in the division standings. The Vipers aim to get back on track when they play the first place London Nationals this Valentine’s day.

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris February 9, 2018 12:34

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