After watching his youngsters do all the team’s scoring in the first three games of the playoffs, Sarnia Legionnaires head coach Mark Davis challenged his veterans to step up to the plate Tuesday.
And they did just that, scoring five times to lead the local Jr. ‘B’ hockey club to a dramatic 8-5 win over the LaSalle Vipers.
The triumph, which came before more than 1,000 fans at the Brock Street barn, knotted the best-of-seven quarterfinal series at two games apiece.
Game Five goes tonight (Wednesday, March 9) in LaSalle. The sixth contest will be back in Sarnia this coming Saturday.
“I called them out,” Davis said of his older players. “I said, ‘tonight you guys have got to be our best and they became the best.”
Ryan Vendramin, who notched three goals for the Legion crew, said, “All our goals (prior to Tuesday) were by 17-year-olds. We knew we (the veterans) had to step up. He (Davis) came into the room and told us to get going.”
Other vets to find the back of the net included Brandon Layman, who scored a pretty shorthanded tally on a breakaway, and Ryan Trottier, who drilled home a shot from the slot. Layman also had three assists.
The team’s veterans may have been on fire, but the rookies weren’t totally silent either. Brendan Shagena, Alec DeKoning and Joey Zappa were among first-year players to light up the lamp. Zappa also had a pair of assists.
* LaSalle scored three goals with extra attackers on the ice, including a pair when they enjoyed six-on-three manpower advantages.
* Sarnia was 2-for-6 with the power-play while the Vipers were 4-for-7.
* The teams were locked in a scoreless tie at the end of the first period and Sarnia led 3-1 after 40 minutes.
* Goalie Shayne Battler was credited with the win, while Paolo Battisti took the loss.
* The Legionnaires were without defenceman Sam McCormack and forward Jarret Marks, both of whom were serving the first of two-game suspensions. Their places in the lineup were admirably filled by Nash Nienhuis and Zack Vanderwal.