Newcastle Vipers future still in doubt

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QUESTIONS remain over the future of Newcastle Vipers, whose testing campaign finally ended last night.

Danny Stewart’s men had just nine skaters for the trip to Dundee Stars, who finished off their first Elite League campaign with a sixth successive victory, 6-2.

Vipers deserve credit for a fighting display, but their lack of numbers – amid rumours that the club may not reappear next season – told as Dundee’s four-goal second period proved decisive, with Newcastle finishing ninth in the table, 15 points adrift of the eighth-top Stars.

Kyle Sibley cancelled out Dundee’s early opener, but the loss of four unanswered second-period goals sealed the issue at 5-1. Jaroslaw Rzeszutko grabbed Vipers’ final goal of the season in the final stanza.

On Saturday, Dundee edged a 4-3 win at Whitley Bay in front of an 893 crowd.

Vipers trailed early on but rallied strongly to lead 3-1, thanks to goals from Toms Hartmanis’s double and a Rzeszutko, only to be undone by three powerplay strikes in the final two periods.

Meanwhile, Sheffield Steelers clinched the title on the slimmest of margins – the number of regulation-time wins – from Cardiff Devils after the pair finished level on 87 points.