Tigers Hold On To Sink Pirates. Hexagon Telford Tigers took on the Hull Pirates on Sunday night at Telford Ice Rink in the NIHL National League. Tigers did not play the previous evening as they had no scheduled fixture, Hull came into the game off the back of their first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at home to London Raiders. Tigers were still without the injured Jason Silverthorn and Corey Goodison and were joined on the sidelines by Andy McKinney, whilst Hull had lost Bobby Chamberlain for this fixture after the Pirates forward had been given a match penalty at the end of their previous game for abuse of a match official.
Starting in goal for Tigers was Brad Day, with Ashley Smith starting for Hull.
Hull had the first chance of the evening after 46 seconds with Lee Bonner hitting a shot straight at Day when well placed. Tigers’ Czech Republic import Dominik Florian looked bright early on and weaved his way into the Hull defensive zone single-handed and rang his shot off the crossbar from a tight angle, with Smith well beaten. Tigers conceded first and it was in disappointing fashion. Hull won a clean faceoff draw in their own defensive zone and Tigers allowed Josh Gent to skate the length of the ice and square the puck for Olegs Sislannikovs to deflect past Day into the net. The response from the home team was instant. Scott McKenzie won the faceoff from the restart and found Ricky Plant in space. Plant returned the puck to McKenzie who skated in on goal and hit a wrist shot over the pads of Smith to level the game just 10 seconds after Hull took the lead.
Hull regained the lead in the 12th minute and again, Tigers will not be happy with their defending. Dan Mitchell misplaced a pass across his own blue line finding Hull’s Bonner unmarked. Bonner hammered the puck past Day who was not anticipating a shot, with the puck beating Day before he could get set in his goal crease. Just as with the first goal, Tigers responded with a goal almost immediately. Twenty nine seconds after conceding, Danny Rose sent the puck up the ice to Mitchell, who got behind the Hull defence, received the puck and skated in on Hull’s goal. Mitchell atoned for his earlier error with a magnificent backhand shot into the roof of the net to draw Tigers level. As the period ended, Telford had a couple of half chances with Adam Taylor and Fin Howells both going close.
The second period saw Tigers gain their first lead of the contest. In the 25th minute, Hull’s Jonathan Kirk was given a tripping penalty, giving Tigers their first power play of the evening. Jonathan Weaver scored with a trademark goal from the right circle, hitting a perfect shot over Smith’s shoulder into the net to put Tigers 3-2 ahead. They doubled their lead shortly after, again on the power play after Hull’s Jason Hewitt was called for high sticking. Jack Watkins scoring an almost identical goal to Weaver’s with a shot over the shoulder of Smith to give Tigers a 4-2 lead. Within 23 seconds of the 4th goal, Tigers scored again. Joe Aston scoring with a shot that beat Smith low down. Hull’s heads were down and it took them some time to get themselves together. As the period drew to a close, Hull pressed hard to get back into the game and got their reward with 36 seconds of the period left. With Tigers defence tiring, Hewitt found the unmarked Sislannikovs at the far post to slam home Hull’s 3rd goal.
Telford made the worst possible start to the third period. Defender Thomas McKinnon attempted a pass across his defensive zone and the puck got held up in some surface water, leaving Hull’s Peter Fabus a free shot at goal. Fabus hammered a shot past Day to draw the Pirates within a goal at 5-4. Hull were back in the game and pressed hard for the equaliser. In the 51st minute Telford were given a glorious chance to see out the game. Thomas Stubley was given a checking from behind penalty, closely followed by a tripping call awarded against Sislannikovs. Tigers had a 5 on 3 power play and made their numerical advantage pay. Florian and Plant worked the puck to McKenzie at the far post with an empty net to shoot into. McKenzie made no mistake for his 2nd goal of the night and Tigers’ sixth.
Hull refused to give up and got back into the game once again from a Tigers’ defensive error. With 2 minute left, Ross Kennedy took too long to clear the puck and got caught out when his clearance was blocked by a Hull attacker. Hull recycled the puck and Matty Davies found Bonner in space allowing the Pirates’ attacker to force the puck home from a tight angle.
As the game entered the final minute, Hull pulled Smith for an extra attacker. Telford’s Danny Rose almost scored with a shot that went the length of the ice but narrowly missed the goal.
Day was called on several times in the last seconds to block shots from Davies and Hewitt and a mad scramble in front of goal with seconds left saw Day make a great save ensuring the puck stayed out of the net, giving Tigers the win.
Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 6 Hull Pirates 5.
Scorers: Scott McKenzie (2), Dan Mitchell, Jonathan Weaver, Jack Watkins and Joe Aston.
Man of the match: Ross Kennedy.
After the game coach Tom Watkins commented, “It was a huge win, and a big 2 points for us, especially when we were without three key players and against a quality team in our conference. We certainly rode our luck at times and I felt we got outplayed at times, but a win is a win and I’m happy for the team. From a coaching point of view, it was a frustrating performance, we made several errors that led directly to goals against us, but we were quick to respond and steal back momentum which I think was very important. I’m sure we will play better and lose, so it’s important to enjoy the result tonight.”
Hexagon Telford Tigers 1 will next be in action on home ice this Sunday, 13th October against Basingstoke Bison. Match Night tickets available to purchase here!