TWO goals down inside the first four minutes, an inconsistent Vipers immediately went behind again moments after getting back on level terms.
Against a Clan side that had lost its previous five games, Danny Stewart’s team restored parity 53 seconds into the final period when Peter Forsbacka’s shot sailed pass netminder JF Perras on his glove side.
The Vipers then switched off and just 21 seconds later they were playing catch up hockey again as the Clan attacked and scored through Brendan Cook on 41 minutes.
It was a huge blow and with five minutes left on the game clock, the Vipers looked set to suffer their first defeat after two satisfying victories when Matt Haywood made sure that the Clan capitalised on a turnover.
Undaunted, the Vipers made a game of it again when Jamie Carroll scored from the edge of the crease to make it 3-4 on 56 minutes. And it was a case of what might have been for the home team when Perras made a stand-out save, before Dale Mahovsky mistimed his stick swipe as the puck flashed across the slot.
In a late gamble, netminder Charlie Effinger was withdrawn tin the 59th minute but the Vipers couldn’t make the extra skater count, lost possession and conceded an empty net goal, Cook scoring his second of the night.
Moments after the face-off, the Vipers then did what they needed to do when Effinger was withdrawn when Mike Prpich rounding Perras before placing the puck in the back of the net with nine seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late.
Afterwards Stewart lamented his team’s poor start, saying: “Braehead came out of the gates and we didn’t match their intensity.
“We played well in parts of the game but, to me, the guys looked tired, which may well be the result of playing short benched and four games in seven nights. They battled well to the end but came up short.”
Effinger was beaten for the first time with the game just 57 seconds old, Adam Walker successful with a low shot from inside the slot.
It became 2-0 on three minutes as the Clan continued to press. Receiving the puck between the two face off circles Bobby Chaumont gave Effinger no chance.
The Vipers should have gone further behind when the Clan mounted a three-on-one break during a home powerplay in the 13th minute. Having repulsed the attack and regaining possession, the Vipers then immediately counter-attacked and Mahovsky shot low to Perras’s left to make it 2-1.
Vipers’ man of the match Effinger made 26 saves during 40 minutes of play to keep his side in with a chance of getting something out of the game, and a further nine in the final period.
VIPERS: Carroll and Prpich 1+2, Forsbacka and Mahovsky 1+0, Hartmanis, Rzeszutko and Zajac 0+1.
CLAN: Cook 2+0, Chaumont and Walker 1+1, Haywood 1+0, Bostock, Krestanovich and Landry 0+2, Wathier 0+1.