LASALLE – The LaSalle Vipers proved to be a more formidable foe than expected in the Sutherland Cup Jr. B hockey championship series. But in the end, the Caledonia Pro-Fit Corvairs bench was just too deep for the Vipers and as a result, the Corvairs carried home their second consecutive Sutherland Cup on the bus from LaSalle Friday night.
The Vipers took the Corvairs to Game #6, but Tyler Lapore, who was sensational throughout the playoffs, broke a 3-3 tie at 8:14 of the third period, and Marc Sinclair and the Corvair defense held the fort for the rest of the game.
Sinclair, who has played the backup role to Kevin Entmaa most of the season, was the goalie of record in the Championship win stopping 28 of 31 shots for the win.
“We have always said we have two starters in goal,” said general manager Brian Rizzetto. “Marc won earlier in LaSalle, and Bully (coach Mike Bullard) told Marc after Game #5 that he would get the start in LaSalle and he rose to the occasion.”
“I’m glad we won it with a good play and not some fluke,” said Rizzetto.
What began as a broken play turned into a two-on-one break with Erick Delaurentis carrying the puck and Tyler Lapore speeding into the play. Delaurentis drew the defender towards him and slipped a perfect feed to Lapore who wired it high to the locker side for what stood up as the Cup winner.
With their backs firmly against the wall and before a loud hometown crowd, the LaSalle Vipers put up a titanic battle to stay alive.
Caledonia struck first with Kyle Tanev converting a Jordan Peacock pass to take a 1-0 lead at 4:55. The Vipers were not going to let that stand long and less than a minute later, Nathan Veres tied it up and then at 19:22 gave LaSalle a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
Cosimo Fontana evened the score again at 3:38 assisted by Luke Sinclair and Nathan Gomes before Peacock gave Caledonia the lead at 8:04 from Todd Ratchford. LaSalle’s Brendan Harrogates gobbled up a loose puck to score an unassisted marker at 9:09 to pull even with Caledonia again.
Lapore scored what would to be the game winner with the only goal of the third period.
It was a cleanly played game, both teams showing a lot of discipline in such a high-pressure game by staying relatively penalty free throughout the contest. LaSalle outshot the Corvairs 31-29.
“Winning championships is like having kids,” says Rizzetto. “You love ‘em all but for different reasons. This year we had a no-stars team and we had a lot of guys who have never won a championship before. It was great to see them enjoy it.”
Although this year’s Corvairs did not have those one or two go-to guys, they did carry a bench full of talent, which allowed Bullard to ice four solid lines, something most other teams were unable to defend against all season long.
Nine Corvairs will be going overage for 2016, and there is always a few who move on, but coming into the 2015 season, there were 14 new faces in the dressing room and that didn’t hurt them at all.
“Everyone involved with this team are like a family,” says Rizzetto. “Kenny (Hill) and Jerry (Montour) treat us all like family. They believe, as we all do, that you can’t win off the ice if you can’t win in the dressing room.”
Rizzetto is already gearing up for what he hopes will be the three-peat.
“In the 80+ years of the Jr. B, no one has won three Sutherland Cups in a row, and we intend to be the ones to do it next year.,” he declared.