With a couple of players sounding like adverts for cold relief tablets, the Vipers made the very daunting (and very wet) journey down to Bracknell Queen Bees, eight-time consecutive Elite League Champions.
The roster was missing Chamonix Jackson, Hollie Neenan, Lizzie Saunders and Jess Urquhart.
Nevertheless, whilst Bracknell’s experience and skill level was evident from the outset, Nottingham started well and looked competitive and settled.
At 13’, a shot from Hannah Ware saw Reagan Downing drive the net to pick up the rebound and bring the unlikely situation of the league’s newcomers leading the Champions by 1-0!
Penalties then proved costly for the Vipers with a hooking call and too many men each leading to Bracknell power play goals – Lucy Beal and Rachel Cartwright doing the damage.
A first period score line of 2-1 against, was certainly not one that was going to disappoint the Vipers and it fully reflected their battling, defensive performance.
Queen Bees were out of the blocks quickly for Period 2 with Abbie Sylvester taking the game to 3-1 almost instantly, and Katie Girdler bringing goal number four at the 25’ mark.
This newly promoted Vipers have already shown in previous games that they are not a team that will quit even when it is not going well. And so it proved to be again.
Reagan Downing’s bounding energy paid off a second time as she found herself netting goal number two from close in, after a pass from Megan Rathbone.
With the score at 4-2, the Vipers were in game contention beyond the half way stage, for a third successive week.
But Bracknell are an experienced team that keeps the pressure on right to the hooter and the tireless Emily Harris found the net for 5-2 in the final minute of Period 2, to take the sting out of any comeback discussions at the interval.
The Queen Bees really turned the screw on the fresh ice of Period 3, registering 29 shots on Nottingham, but a tenacious display from the whole Vipers’ team, and particularly Holly Steeples in net, limited events to one further goal and a final score of 6-2.
Congratulations go to yet another excellent Bracknell Queen Bees side, but more positives than negatives were also taken home by Nottingham.
Queen Bees 6
Regan Downing 2+0
Megan Rathbone 0+1
Hannah Ware 0+1
Queen Bees SOG 67
Vipers SOG 12
Queen Bees PIM 6
Vipers PIM 10
Holly Steeples 67 shots (91.0% SVS)