COMPETITIVE for two periods, the Vipers were outplayed in the third by the Stingrays and lost for the fourth successive game.
Two minutes into the final period, the Vipers went behind for the first time in the match and even at that stage they looked a beaten side.
A powerplay failure shortly afterwards confirmed the impression and the Stingrays went 4-6 ahead on 49 minutes. The visitors’ seventh was an empty netter with little time left to play.
Earlier the Vipers had led 1-0, 2-1, 3-1 and 4-3, the team taking the lead in the fifth minute when Dale Mahovsky got the decisive touch in a melee around the crease to capitalise on a powerplay.
The goal was cancelled out just as the Vipers returned to full strength after killing a powerplay. Netminder Charlie Effinger took the pace off of Sylvain Cloutier’s shot but not enough of it to stop the puck slowly crossing the goal line on nine minutes.
Under a minute later the Vipers went ahead for the second time through Jamie Carroll who timed his arrival at the far post perfectly to shoot home a rebound off netminder Christian Boucher.
On 12 minutes Adam Reynolds was set free up the middle with only Boucher ahead of him and the British youngster, wearing his preferred No 44 for the first time since joining the club on a two way deal with the Whitley Warriors, beat the netminder high to his left to open his goalscoring account with the Vipers.
Just 45 seconds later the Stingrays pulled one back through their top scorer Jerome Tendler, the success coming seconds after the start of a powerplay.
The period ended with Jaroslav Rzeszutko, as he had done in the opening exchanges, failing to score when set up at the edge of the crease with Boucher unable to cover all his goal.
Four minutes into the second period the miss became costly as parity between the teams was restored when Jason Silverthorn redirected a goal attempt let loose by Drew Bannister.
The Vipers gained the advantage again on the half hour when Rzeszutko’s shot went wide of Boucher’s left hand post, hit the back boards and rebounded to the other side of the goal.
Gaining possession, Mike Prpich instantly hit the puck goalwards and found the gap between Boucher and his right hand post. It all went wrong for the home side during a powerplay, the Stingrays launching a two on one breakaway which finished with Bannister scoring at the far post from Silverthorn’s cross ice pass on 35 minutes.
On 42 minutes the Stingrays went 4-5 ahead when Tendler struck for a second time and just under five minutes later his hat-trick marker put the Stingrays in command. With a face-off in the Stingrays’ zone about to happen, the Vipers called a time out on 58.20 and when play resumed Effinger was on the bench for a six on five skater gamble.
But with little time left to play the Silverthorn calmly put the puck into the empty goal.
VIPERS: Prpich 1+2, Carrol 1+1, Mahovsky and Reynolds 1+0, Holland, Rzeszutko and Sibley 0+1.
STINGRAYS: Tendler 3+0, Silverthorn 2+1, Bannister 1+2, Clouthier 1+1., Coburn and Kalmikov 0+2, Davies, Dulle, Gaisins and Read 0+1.