A depleted Deeside Dragons dropped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Sutton Sting.
Sutton took the lead early on and a strong effort from goalie Dmitri Zimozdra denied the hosts a route back into the game.
Dragons were without a number of skaters, including player-coach Scott Mckenzie, due to injury.
Their short bench battled hard but were unable to secure what would have been a valuable two points in their relegation fight.
The Sting started on the front foot and a quickfire double inside the first 10 minutes proved to be enough to win the contest at Deeside Ice Rink.
With Ryan Jones in the box for high-sticking, Charles Thompson scored off a feed from James Goodman to give the away side the lead.
Lloyd Gibson doubled their advantage less than 30 seconds later with what would eventually go down as the game-winning goal.
By the end of the opening period Sutton had tallied 18 shots to six for the Dragons – goalie Denis Bell doing well to keep the visitors at bay.
After the intermission the Sting struck again as Gibson tallied his second with a Thompson assist.
Mckenzie’s men improved as they looked to respond in front of their home crowd but they were unable to solve Zimozdra.
Into the final period and Deeside’s Louis Morgan and Sutton’s Thomas Barry were both heavily penalised for extracurricular activities as tempers flared.
The hosts saw a pair of powerplay chances pass them by as they looked to start a comeback.
Dragons captain James Parsons was able to snap Zimozdra’s shutout with just over five minutes to go. Simon Furnival grabbed an assist on the goal.
The Sting netminder finished with 38 saves as the away side managed to see it out.
Deeside remain seventh in the NIHL North One Moralee Conference, a point above bottom-side Telford Tigers, but with two games in hand.
Dragons head to top-of-the-table Solway Sharks for their next fixture on Saturday with puck drop at 7pm.