FOR the second night in a row the middle and third periods became a damage limitation exercise for the Vipers, writes PETER ADAMS.
Playing without defenceman John Schwarz, who was concussed in a collision with an official during the first period of Monday night’s heavy away loss against the Cardiff Devils, the Vipers left the ice for the first break trailing 0-5.
It took the Panthers just a minute to go into the lead when Vipers’ netminder Charlie Effinger, clearly uncomfortable after being hurt by a shot, was beaten by a long-range effort from defenceman Guillaime Lepine.
Vipers went further behind when Rob Bellamy’s shot went through Effinger’s legs (10 minutes) and just over a minute later David-Alexandre Beauregard made it 0-3, the puck going in off Jamie Carroll.
A powerplay goal hit by Bellamy (15 minutes) and a close range effort by Marc Levers (18 minutes) put the Panthers in a commanding position at the break.
Effinger was bypassed again on 26 minutes, when Bellamy hit his hat trick which saw the keeper hauled off to be replaced by Liam McAllister.
From the face off Toms Hartmanis broke through the Panthers defence only to be impeded. Referee Neil Wilson awarded a penalty shot. Unfortunately for Hartmanis he sent the puck wide as he bore down on goal.
Stephen Lee showed him how to capitalise on a head to head encounter to put the Panthers 0-7 ahead on 34 minutes.
There was some cheer for the Vipers and their supporters under a minute later when defenceman Kyle Sibley’s shot beat Dan Green, who managed to take some of the pace of it but not enough to stop it crossing the goal line with five minute remaining in the period.
Beauregard put the Panthers 1-8 ahead on 36 minutes and two minutes into the final period Bellamy struck his fourth of the night to put the visitors further ahead. Two goals from Jasoslav Rzeszutko scored 26 seconds apart in the 44th minute made the score line more respectable for the home side but the Panthers were not finished and blueliner Billy Ryan took them into double figures (48 minutes) with Lee scoring the 11th (52 minutes).
With three minutes left of the game remaining Carroll set up Patrik Forsbacka for the Vipers’ fourth consolation goal of the game.
McAllister ended the night having let in five goals from 23 shots.
VIPERS: Rzeszutko 2+0, Sibley 1+1, Forsbacka 1+0, Carroll 0+2, Stewart 0+1.
PANTHERS: Bellamy 4+2, Bearegard 2+1, Lee 2+0, Ryan 1+ 3, Lepine 1+1, Levers 1+0, Neilson 0+4, Myers and Ward 0+2, Galbraith, Lachowicz and Zion 0+1.