The visiting LaSalle Vipers took a two-games to one season series lead with a narrow, hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Rockets at the WMMC in front of 274 fans.  Both clubs looked weary in a slow, sluggish first period.  The tempo increased by the midway point of the opening frame in this tight-checking affair.  Historically the Vipers have struggled at West Middlesex and the ghosts from the past still seemed to be hanging a shadow over the Vipers in their timid, overly cautious play.  Both clubs exhibited problems passing the puck and executing plays.  Extended periods of play along the boards resembled trench warfare as both teams fought for every inch of ice.

Tyler Russell opened the scoring for the Vipers at 16:01 of the first period on the powerplay with Spencer Allen off for an errant high stick.  Russell scored on the rush down the right side finishing off a nice passing play with Aaron Shaw and Frank Zak.  His rising shot beat Weir high on the glove side ricocheting off the post and into the Rocket net.

At 11:14 of the sandwich session, Rocket defender Greg Marks pulled down Kory Silverio from behind on a breakaway and Silverio was awarded a penalty shot.  Silverio made no mistake veering to his right then cutting left across the front of the Rocket goal ripping a quick shot over Weir’s blocker.  The goal would stand up to be the game winner.  It was the first penalty shot goal by the Vipers in 8 years.  The previous one was scored by Eric Noel vs the London Nationals on September 16, 2009.  Rocket captain Marks returned to the lineup after an 11-game absence.  His presence has been dearly missed by his teammates.  The Rockets have won just 2 of the 11 games with Marks out of the lineup.

With 6 seconds remaining in the second period a quick shot off a faceoff win by Spencer Allen by Michael Wood beat Dershahn Stewart high to the glove side giving the Rockets some renewed hope heading into the third period.

Neither team managed to find the back of the net in the third period.  The Rockets played solidly defensively often only utilizing one forechecker to guard against odd-man rushes.

The Rockets won the hit parade with a pair of bone crushing checks.  Sam Stanton ploughed Aiden Ryan into the boards by the Rocket bench and Michael Wood ran over Brendan Soto behind the Viper goal. Wood was honoured as the Poag Jeweller’s Player of the Month for November prior to the game.  The win moved the Vipers into a tie with the St. Thomas Stars for third place, two points below the second place Leamington Flyers.  The Rockets outshot the Vipers 32-30 and established a domination in the faceoff circle winning 32 of 55 draws (58.2%)

(photo: Colleen Wiendels Photography – Rockets facebook)

David Honsberger

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