DESPITE coming close to equalising in a frantic conclusion, Newcastle Vipers lost to Braehead Clan for the second successive night.
The decisive moment came with just over seven minutes left to play. Bruce Richardson banged the puck goalwards through traffic from point. Netminder Charlie Effinger got behind the shot but couldn’t catch or clear the puck and Kyle Bruce nipped to slot in the rebound.
After a Vipers’ time out, two-goal Jaroslav Rzeszutko was millimetres away from hitting his hat-trick marker when his shot struck the top of goalie J F Perras’ left hand shoulder and over the bar.
With seconds left, the Vipers operating a powerplay and having withdrawn Effinger to the bench, Rzeszutko couldn’t get enough lift on the puck to send it over a defenceman and into the net.
A turnover in mid-ice resulted in a three-on-one break which finished with defenceman John Landry putting the Clan ahead on four minutes.
The lead lasted over 13 minutes. Debutant Callum Davies sped along the left flank and centred. It appeared that Dean Holland got the scoring contact but the goal was awarded to Davies.
In the 20th minute the Vipers went behind again to a Richardson goal but were back on level terms 41 seconds into the middle period. A two-on-one breakaway failed but a favourable bounce of the boards led to Rzeszutko scoring.
Twenty-five minutes into the game, the home side went ahead. Toms Hartmanis broke through the defence to go one on one with Perras and gave the netminder no chance with an assured finish.
Unfortunately the Vipers conceded two quick goals as they had done at Braehead the previous night. Effinger couldn’t prevent Bruce scoring the 31st minute equaliser and just 36 seconds later the visitors went ahead through Cody Bostock.
It took the Vipers two minutes to get back on level terms, Rzeszutko netting his second. Two goals scored 77 seconds apart in the middle period of Saturday night’s away game against the Clan set the Vipers on course for defeat.
The Vipers’ 16th-minute opener, hit by Mike Prprich, was cancelled out by Bobby Chaumont’s score and the Clan took control of the game when Matt Haywood and Dominic Noel were successful (26 and 27 minutes).
A goal by Rzeszutko on 38 minutes put the Vipers back into contention but Richardson hit the first of two insurance markers on 56 minutes.
The second was an empty-net strike by Bruce with just six seconds left on the game clock.
VIPERS: Rzeszutko 2+1, Hartmanis 1+1, Davies 1+0, Holland and Schwarz 0+1.
CLAN: Bruce 2+2, Bostock and Richardson 1+1, Landry 1+0, Noel 0+3, Chalmers and Wedderburn 0+1.
CLAN (Saturday): Bruce, Noel and Richardson 1+2, Chaumont and Haywood 1+0, Bostock, Cook, Krestanovich and Wedderburn 0+1.
VIPERS: Prpich and Rzeszutko 1+0, Hartmanis 0+2, Sibley and Stewart 0+1.