Many changes as the vipers prepare to return to the ice at home

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LaSalle Vipers captain Nic Pavia has grown up fast.


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Pavia, 19, was a rookie with the Vipers when the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down in March 2020.

Pavia and the Vipers return to the ice at the Vollmer Complex for a regular season game for the first time in nearly 19 months on Wednesday. Playing time against the Strathroy Rockets is at 7 p.m.

“In 2019, I was a rookie and now I’ve become a best seller and a captain,” Pavia said. “I am very excited (for the first home game). I don’t know the exact number, but it’s been around (567) days since we had a significant match at home. “

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of new faces in the lineup with two years of graduation leaving the Vipers with six returning veterans.

“We have six guys back, but we’re lucky it’s our six guys,” Vipers general manager John Nelson said. Guys like Nick Pavia, Stephane Crevier, Spencer Lecot and Kyle Walker. They are our main boys and our leaders. “


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Although happy to be back on the ice, Pavia said the hardest part for him was seeing his former teammates without a chance to hit the ice one last time.

“The hardest thing, when it comes to COVID, was just disappearing last year and seeing the kids grow old,” Pavia said. “The games are important, the boys are important and being in the locker room with the boys is what I missed the most and I’m glad we’re back to that.”

There is also a transition behind the bench with Matt Beaudoin replacing Nelson as head coach.

“John was a great coach and a fair guy and Matt is the same, but he brings a different style,” said Pavia. “We have a young coaching staff, so he’s light in the dressing room and fun and seems super passionate.”

Beaudoin earned his first regular season win behind the bench with the Vipers winning 4-1 at Strathroy on Saturday.


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The guys got me the game disc after the victory at Strathroy, which was amazing, ”said Beaudoin. “We had a lot of firsts with three guys (Shaun Horne, Darby Drouillard and Brody Gillis) scoring goals for the first time and winning, so it was a fun night.

“I honestly think I have always felt comfortable (behind the bench). I love hockey and I’m back in an environment that I love and I’m just trying to be myself. I am not a stubborn coach. I am more motivating and supportive and have some great assistants in Nathan Savage and Chad Shepley. They take a lot off my plate and it has been a very good combination. “

Nelson said the roster-building process for this year’s team has been a little different than in previous years.

“The things we ordered were to compete being No. 1,” Nelson said. “Competing will surpass skill in a series of seven games. We still want skill, but also guys who do the little things well.


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“With character, competence and skill, we believe we have put together the pieces for the year.”

The Vipers will also get a boost from the team’s affiliation with the Windsor Spitfires by landing speedy forward Jack Greenwell and 6-foot-6 defender Tanner Winegard, both of whom were selected in this year’s OHL Draft. The club also added goalkeeper Matt Tovell, who played in two games with the Spitfires in the 2019-20 season.

However, spending some time with the Spitfires will cost the Vipers the services of forward Nicholas Graniero, who suffered a broken wrist after falling to the boards in an exhibition game. He could be gone another five weeks.

“The guys that are coming back are leading the way,” Beaudoin said. “Some of the kids who missed their first season last year have arrived very, very hungry and in good shape. I really like our team ”.

He’ll likely get a tour of the league before the Vipers realize how good this team can be, but Pavia likes what he’s seen so far.

“It’s difficult to make projections because we’ve been out so long, but I realistically hope we can be one of the top three teams,” Pavia said. “I think we have the talent.”

Fans planning to attend Wednesday’s game should remember that capacity is limited to 500 people and proof of vaccination is required, as well as the use of a mask.

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