WINGER Jaroslav Rzeszutko’s late goal sensationally earned the bottom of the table Vipers a shock win over the table toppers.
Just 42 seconds earlier the Vipers had conceded the equaliser but Jamie Carroll released Rzeszutko to smash in the winner.
Penalty killing and the performance of netminder Charlie Effinger were crucial to the victory. The Vipers killed eight powerplays while Effinger made 46 saves, 19 of them in the final period.
The Vipers’ line-up for their first visit of the season to the Odyssey Arena didn’t include their captain Paul Sample for the second game running, the former Giant missing out on a return to what was once his home ice because he is suffering with flu.
A minute into the game referee Dean Smith decided that Simon Lambert was guilty of hooking an opponent and the Vipers took advantage of the early powerplay.
Defenceman Kyle Sibley, who had scored the sudden death overtime goal that earned the Vipers a belated first away win of the season against the Hull Stingrays on Tuesday night, set up Mike Prpich for his fourth powerplay strike and eighth goal in the 12 games he has played for the team.
Unbelievably it became 2-0 on eight minutes and again Sibley was involved in the successful attack which culminated in the Vipers’ top points scorer, Jamie Carroll, shooting the puck past netminder Stephen Murphy. It was the centre’s 11th goal of the season and 36th point.
The game clock had started ticking down the second minute of the holding penalty that blue-liner John Schwarz was serving when the Giants got lucky during their third powerplay of the game on 21 minutes, with Michael Hoffman firing the puck in.
It was to be the first of five powerplays the Vipers had to kill during the period to ensure they went into the final in the lead.
The part played by netminder Charlier Effinger was an important factor in the Vipers remaining ahead having made 27 saves.
Twenty six seconds of Danny Stewart’s roughing penalty remained to be killed at the start of the final period and the Vipers were to find themselves playing a skater down three more times.
Unfortunately the Giants managed to net the equaliser on during their 10th powerplay of the night. Effinger had caused the powerplay by tripping up a Giant and he was beaten for the second time by Jon Gleed with five minutes left to play.
SCORERS – Giants: Gleed and Hoffman 1+0, Hemingway, Lambert and Peacock 0+1.
Vipers: Carroll and Rzeszutko 1+1, Prpich 1+0, Sibley 0+2.