COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Ian Vigier's goalie mask has a brick wall as a theme. That's certainly fitting. The veteran has led the Cottonmouths to their first berth in the SPHL Finals in seven years. But you won't hear him doing any bragging.
"The guys in that locker room are the reason for my success this year," Vigier said. "They're doing a great job of letting me see the puck, and for the most part if you see it, you're going to stop it."
Vigier has been stopping it all right. his .914 save percentage in the regular season was best in the league, as was his 21-7-and-3 record. In the playoffs, he's taken it to the next level, going 4-0 and allowing just five goals in four games, stopping nearly 96 percent of shots. No, he won't brag, but his teammates will.
"You can't say enough about Ian," said center Sam Bowles. "He's been unbelievable. Some of the save he's made, especially last series against Huntsville."
"Ian's in the zone," head coach Jerome Bechard said. "I mean, I don't know how else to describe it."
Rookie center Greg Beller and veteran Orrin Hergott were equally complimentary.
"He's the SPHL Goaltender of the Year, and it's for a good reason, Beller said.
"Yeah," Hergott agreed. "He's been great and he's definitely the reason why we're here."
For the 30-year old Vigier, this run to the finals is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and he's determined to make the most of it.
"This has been five years in the making," Vigier said. "For myself, this is my first trip to the Finals, and this is my fifth year, so I'm just trying to stay calm and enjoy the ride. But at the same time, I'm hungry -- we're hungry -- and we want this."
Then he got really philosophical.
"It could be my last hockey season, so for me to go out on top would be a pretty meaningful thing for me and my family, and it would be nice to go out with a championship."
The Cottonmouths open their best-of-three SPHL Finals series with the Pensacola Ice Flyers on Thursday night at the Civic Center. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 pm ET. Game two is Saturday night in Pensacola, with a game three, if needed, on Sunday at the Snake Pit.
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