Flyers Nip Vipers With OT Tally – by C. Scott Holland

On Thursday night the Leamington Flyers hosted the rival LaSalle Vipers in the team’s real home opener. A crowd of 520 watched the two teams battle for three frames before a Leamington goal 39 seconds into the first OT period ended it.

As if having Leamington fight back to tie the game in the dying minutes of the third wasn’t enough for the Vipers and head coach Bill Bowler. the circumstances revolving around the winning goal had him put up an argument. It actually took refs Wade Peltier and Ryan Renaud longer to deliver an explanation to Bowler and his bench staff than it did for the entire overtime to be played. The actual goal scoring for that game-winning tally wasn’t official until the Pointstreak operator had gotten verification from the teams and refs.

Most of the contest featured some sloppiness and a lack of offense which was clearly indicated by the shots on net. LaSalle had 22 shots on Leamington starter Noah Hedrick while the Flyers put 21 on Vipers’ netminder  Stewart Dershahn. Neither goalie had many quality shots to make saves on but both did make some excellent saves in the third.

The physical aspect of the game wasn’t as intense as it has been in previous encounters but there was plenty of scrappiness as both teams dug for puck possession along the boards and in the corners. The game’s highlight may have been a second period tussle between Flyers’ forward Zach Guilbeault and Vipers’ vet Brett Primeau. Guilbeault seemed to unleash a relentless series of blows which connected but Primeau did manage some last second ones to save face. Both players were handed fighting misconducts and were sent to the showers at 16:11 of the second stanza.

The LaSalle Vipers had plenty of powerplay chances.  They went 2 for 7 on the night while the Flyers failed to have a single powerplay opportunity.  Jack Bowler set up Dallas Maurovic’s shot and Brett Primeau hooked passes to Liam McDougall who redirected a shot past Hedrick from the left side. The contest remained that way until the start of the third period. Scott Florence  and Dallas gave Cale Phibbs a chance while near Dershahn’s right post. Phibbs whisked a rebound past Dershahn to keep the scored knotted with only 56 seconds gone in the period. But the Vipers were resilient. Tyler Russell fed Daniel Beaudoin who skated alone into the Flyers’ zone and drilled a low liner into the far left corner to reassert the Vipers’ lead. After the Vipers missed two powerplay chances to increase the lead, the Flyers pressed hard and on a weird scramble play Cale Phibbs and Brayden Klemens laid the groundwork for Dallas Maurovic. When Maurovic first got the puck a crowd began to form in front of Dershahn. Maurovic clearly had a good chance if he had shot the puck when he got it, but hesitated. The crowd almost let out a huge cry of exasperation thinking that Maurovic had blown a glorious chance. Instead that hesitation was the right move as Maurovic’s shot somehow found that elusive hole and tied the game at 18:44.

The four-on-four overtime period did not look like anything was going to be solved during the initial seconds. But Broden Meloche took a pass from Braden Klemens and gunned it towards Dershan. Many fans thought the shot had eluded Dershahn.  The puck appeared to hit the post along the ice to the right of Dershahn.  The crowd erupted with the goal light on and the horn blazing, however the goal was waved off by the ref and play continued.  Sadly, the Vipers thought the original shot had counted and stopped competing.  Thomas Virban gathered up the puck and centered it into the crease from behind the goal line.  It hit the shaft of Viper defender Brett Banwell’s stick and deflected into his own net.  A goal was called but many weren’t sure which one counted. Meloche’s low right lane salvo did look like it went in, but credit for the winning-goal was given to Thomas Virban. As the Flyers celebrated and vacated the ice the Vipers remained where they were as head coach Bill Bowler argued a bit about the call. No whistle had been blown after the initial shot or apparent goal and the puck was still live. After a few minutes, the Vipers left the rink hurting greatly from a defeat when victory had been within their hands only minutes earlier.

Both teams have plenty of work to do in order to strength their clubs. The Flyers get a shot at the St. Thomas Stars on Friday night in St. Thomas while the Vipers next game has them at home hosting the Chatham Maroons (Wed., Sept. 21).

(photo credit – Ottawa Citizen)

NOTES The Vipers had Clay Kraynack, Joseph Bouzide, and Nolan Gardiner while APJs Jarrett Tazzman and Ameen Fadel were the lineup with APM Justin Bondy. The Flyers were without Zak Parlette who began serving  seven game suspension incurred during the kick-off weekend and Parker Jacques …The Flyers’ next home game will be on Sept. 22 when they host the London Nationals. It will also be a PD school day on the next day and a Free Slice of Domino’s Pizza Night (one per person attending) at the Flyers’ game.

Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington.

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