NEWCASTLE Vipers boss Danny Stewart praised his battling side after a stunning comeback saw them gain revenge on Nottingham Panthers.
Still reeling from their Challenge Cup semi-final thrashing – the Panthers humiliated the Vipers 15-0 – and also their 7-1 hiding at Braehead Clan on Saturday, Newcastle were not given an earthly going into this one.
It looked like as if the form book was going to type as the Vipers found themselves 4-1 down to the Panthers early into the final quarter.
However, a stirring comeback brought the Hillheads crowd on its feet as Stewart bagged the winning goal with just seconds remaining to clinch a memorable 6-5 victory.
Stewart (pictured right) said: “For us to score five goals in the third period and win like that was unbelievable. Their fourth goal was a mistake by myself, but after that the guys never quit and even at 4-1 I did not feel it was a 4-1 game.
“They got two amazing lucky bounces for their first two goals, but we stuck with it, did not get down on ourselves and battled right to the end – and it paid off.
“When an opposing team comes into Whitley Bay and takes things a little too lightly, this is what can happen. It was an unbelievable finish.”
Meanwhile, the Vipers’ defenceman John Schwartz attributed the victory to the ‘hockey gods’ delivering much-welcome pay-back to Nottingham as well as finally bringing him a long-overdue first goal of the season.
He added: “It was a great game for our team.
“Coming off an extremely embarrassing outing last game against Nottingham, all the boys wanted to bounce back and we did just that with a gutsy performance.
“We had a few lucky bounces in the third period but the hockey gods work in mysterious ways.
“When you run the score up on a team 15-0, they are bound to bite back.
“It was nice to score the first goal and get the monkey off my back.
“I don’t think it could have come at a better time for our team, and it was so satisfying seeing all the smiles on the boys’ faces after the game.
“At this point in the season, and with the circumstances our organisation face, all we can ask is we go out and play hard and let the chips fall where they may.
“We did that and came out on top. Hopefully, we can realise a few more nights like it down the stretch.”