THE Vipers did their chances of making the play-offs a power of good with this hard-fought win against the team they have to displace in order to continue playing beyond the end of the regular season.
As a result of the victory, the Vipers now trail the eighth-placed Stars by three points with each side having six games left to play, including home and away matches against each other on the last weekend of league fixtures.
The game was a personal triumph for the Vipers’ left winger Jaroslave Rzeszutko, who scored five goals, the first successfully concluding the first attack of the game on 20 seconds.
It took Rzeszutko just under 17 minutes to complete a natural hat- trick, his second and third goals spaced just 35 seconds apart,
The Vipers were operating a five on three powerplay when they doubled their lead on 16 minutes and then took advantage of the subsequent one-man advantage to make it 3-0 on 17 minutes.
Fifty two seconds into the middle period John Dolan gave the visitors some hope but the Vipers restored their three-goal lead on 28 minutes when Toms Hartmanis hit his 23rd of the season.
Rzeszutko hit the home side’s fifth on 33 minutes and less than a minute later, the Stars countered with a goal by Dan Ceman.
The possibility of a Stars’ comeback became greater when AJ MacLean cut his team’s deficit three minutes into the final period.
But Rzeszutko was having none of it and with four minutes left on the clock he netted the sixth to effectively make sure of securing the Vipers’ 12th win of a troublesome season.
His five goal performance boosted his points total from 41 games to 56, which breaks down to 29 goals and 27 assists.
VIPERS: Rzeszutko 5+0, Hartmanis 1+3, Prpich and Stewart 0+2, Sibley 0+1.
STARS: Ceman, Dolan and MacLean 1+0, Latulippe 0+2, Cartwright, Makway, McClusky and Zarb 0+1.