IN what was possibly their last ever game the Vipers were set on course for their 42nd defeat of the season, when they let in four middle-period goals.
The game was a mere 39 seconds old when the puck was winging its way into the back of the Vipers’ net after being shot there by the Star’s player-coach Dan Ceman.
During Saturday night’s 3-4 home loss against the Stars, the Vipers had struggled on the powerplay and ended the game with a dire nought out of 10 record.
However, the Vipers managed to reverse the trend just under a minute after Tristan Harper had been sent to the home penalty bench for slashing, when defenceman Kyle Sibley struck his 14th and four powerplay goal of the season on two minutes. Given a second powerplay opportunity on 15 minutes when Jonathan Harper was judged to be guilty of tripping, the Vipers couldn’t repeat the trick.
The season ended 40 minutes early for Vipers’ netminder Charlie Effinger who was replaced for the second period by his understudy, Liam McAllister.
During his 20 minutes on the ice, Effinger made 15 saves to take his total to 1822 in 56 games, the second highest in the league during the regular season.
The Stars’ opening score was the 253rd goal Effinger had let in and his final goals against average is 4.76 per game and save percent, 0.878.
Two goals, scored 36 seconds apart, turned the tie in the home side’s favour, Ceman netting his second of the night before Jonathan Hogan made a success the Stars’ next attack.
The Vipers were then hit by a second quick fire brace with a 22 second time scale. A J MacLean earned an assist on the Stars’ fourth, scored by Gary Wishart on 33 minutes and then added the fifth on 34 minutes.
With eight minutes left on the game clock what could turn out to be the last ever Vipers’ goal was fittingly hit home by the team’s top goal and points scorer, Jaroslav Rzeszutko, the goal being the Pole’s 34th of the season.
Vipers’ defenceman Sam Zajac was of the ice serving a slashing penalty when McAllister was beaten for a fifth time on 54 minutes, the powerplay goal being scored by John Dolan.
STARS: Ceman 2+0, Wishart 1+2, Dolan, MacLean 1+1, Dolan and Hogam 1+0, Makway 0+2, Latulippe, Marshall, Suderman and Zarb 0+1.
VIPERS: Rzeszutko and Sibley 1+0, Hartmanis, Prpich and Stewart 0+1.
VIPERS: HARTMANIS 2+1, Rzeszutko 1+1, Holland 0+2, Prpich and Stewart 0+1.
STARS: MacLean 2+0, Dolan 1+0, Latulippe 0+2, Cartwright, Kinos, Makway and Zarb 0+1.