Vipers aim for a repeat.
THE Newcastle Vipers head into their twolegged play-off showdown with Belfast this weekend inspired by the "spirit of the nine" as they seek a Giant upset.
With their ranks depleted again by skipper David Longstaff's broken jaw, the Vipers will have to emulate their sensational shorthanded victory in Belfast in January if they are to return home from Saturday's first leg as favourites for final-four weekend.
Trailing 4-0 that night in the hostile Odyssey Arena, nine-man Newcastle - their resources drained by an injury epidemic - looked set for humiliation.
But Ben Campbell scored to spark arguably the club's greatest ever comeback win, as the Giants succumbed to a shoot-out defeat after a 5-5 draw.
And homegrown starlet Campbell admits the Vipers will hark back to that epic evening when they head across the Irish Sea.
"That win showed we can cope with whatever numbers we have when everyone pulls together," said Campbell. "It was an incredible night and it's something we'll talk about when we go back to Belfast.
"To go there with nine guys should have meant certain defeat, but we showed fantastic character and quality, and I hope the Giants haven't forgotten it.
"They are one of the top teams that we seem to come good against, whereas we've not often performed against the other struggling sides this season.
"I'm not sure why that is, but it should give us confidence going into the weekend that we can spring a surprise."
Campbell himself has gone from strength to strength since that against-all-odds victory, and now has 10 goals for the season - and three in his last four games.
And the 22-year-old former Whitley Warrior forward puts his recent form down to departing coach Rob Wilson's faith in youth.
"Willy has given me a lot of ice time recently, and I feel I've taken my game forward quite a bit.
"Confidence is a big thing in ice hockey and the faith shown in me over the last couple of months has certainly boosted my confidence.
"And, all in all, Willy's been a massive influence on me - I've taken a lot from him.
"He's really good with the young British guys, and with his experience he can give you a lot of advice."
Little wonder Campbell is keen that Wilson's coaching successor also sets store by local talent.
"It's a new chapter in the Vipers story and for Willy," he said. "Hopefully he does well for himself elsewhere and the lads he leaves behind will continue to progress.
"The development of homegrown players has been a big thing at Newcastle and I hope the new coach does appreciate that." THE Vipers entertain Belfast Giants in the second leg of their play-off showdown at Whitley Bay Ice Rink on Sunday night (face-off 4.30pm).
Tickets are on sale priced pounds 11 for adults, pounds 7 concessions, pounds 5 Under-16s and pounds 28 for a family of two adults and two Under-16s from www.vipershockey.co.uk/shop, by telephoning the Vipers office on 0191 261 0909 or visiting the club shop on Shakespeare Street in Newcastle.
UP FOR IT: Ben Campbell is ready for Belfast crunch