THE night after going bottom of the league table, the Vipers produced a shock win over fifth-placed Blaze to end a four-game losing streak.
The Vipers saw their 2-0 lead halved but made sure of victory when Jamie Carroll struck a goal in the final minute.
The unexpected win means the Vipers swap league positions with Dundee Stars again. Danny Stewart’s team went into action without their leading goal scorer Patrik Forsbacka because of a knee injury.
Forsbacka’s absence, together with the unavailability of Adam Reynolds, meant the Vipers started with 12 skaters.
Despite the 24-point difference between the two teams it was surprising how slow the tempo was.
Referee Moray Hanson called the first penalty of the game on 27 minutes when he penalised Stewart for tripping.
On 29 minutes, both sides had four skaters after Brad Zanon was ordered off the ice to serve a slashing minor and not long after Stewart returned, the Vipers capitalised on the powerplay.
The puck was worked to Stewart on the blue line and he let fly, the disc bypassing goalie Brett Jaeger close to his right shoulder on its way into the webbing on 21 minutes. The Vipers’ advantage almost doubled three minutes later. In possession during a two-on-one break away, Jaroslav Rzeszutko chose to shoot and his goal attempt beat Jaeger but hit the crossbar.
The home fans didn’t have to wait long for a second goal though. Jaeger wasn’t able to pounce on the rebound he had allowed from a Mike Prpich shot. Prpich hit the puck at the metal work to make it 2-0 on 39 minutes. Owen Fussey’s shot gave Effinger little chance on 56 minutes and the Vipers faced six skaters when Tom Murdy was withdrawn to the bench.
SCORERS – Newcastle Vipers: Carroll and Prpich 1+1, Stewart 1+0, Hartmanis and Mahovsky 0+1.
Coventry Blaze: Fussey 1+0, Cowley 0+1.