Alec DeKoning’s four-point performance lifted the Sarnia Legionnaires to a crucial 4-3 win over the LaSalle Vipers in Jr. ‘B’ hockey playoff action Saturday.
The victory — which came before more than 1,000 roaring fans at the Brock Street barn — tied the best-of-seven quarterfinal series at one game apiece. Game three goes today (Sunday, March 5) in LaSalle.
Trailing 3-1 in the third period, the Legionnaires stormed back with three unanswered goals to grab the win.
“It was awesome, we just kept going and got the ‘W’” DeKoning said. “Getting two goals was a dream come true.”
The rookie forward opened the scoring before the contest was two minutes old, firing home a rebound from a Jarret Marks shot. Defenceman Derrick Johnson also had an assist on the play.
The Sarnians had a number of glorious chances after that, including one play in which the puck rang off the post, but it was LaSalle that went into the first intermission with the lead. Tyler Russell and Brett Primeau saw to that, scoring once each.
In the third period, Primeau scored again to make it 3-1 and it looked like the Legionnaires were finished.
But DeKoning broke into the clear while killing a penalty and dented the twine from close range to cut the lead to 3-2. “I didn’t even see it go in, I just saw everyone going nuts,” he said.
Not long after that, Marks scored a power-play goal from the side of the net to tie the game. DeKoning and Ryan Trottier had helpers on the play.
With overtime looming, defensive-defenceman Derrick Johnson scored the first goal of his Jr. ‘B’ career to win the game.
Johnson, who was a healthy scratch in game one, took a pass from Marks and rifled the puck home.
“It was my first goal all season and the timing was great,” he said. “I just saw Marksey (with the puck) and I had an opening through the ice. I was calling for it hard.”
Joey Zappa also drew an assist on the goal, which came with less than four minutes left on the clock.
In the final two minutes the top scoring line of Ryan Vendramin, Brandon Layman and Brock Perry did a great job of bottling the Vipers up in their own zone.
Head coach Mark Davis said, “Now we’ve got a little confidence. We know we can play with them.”
The bench boss had high praise for goalie Shayne Battler, who kicked out 33 shots. The Legionnaires had 33 drives on Vipers goalkeeper Eli Billing.
Game four in the series will be played at Sarnia ArenaTuesday.