Double Champions for Tigers 2. Hexagon Telford Tigers 2 welcomed Hull Jets to Telford Ice Rink on Saturday as both teams went head-to-head in the second leg of the Laidler Cup final. Tigers had made the trip up to Hull for the first-leg of the cup only one week prior where they gained a three goal advantage.
Visitors Hull Jets were given a delay of the game penalty in the opening three minutes of the game handing Tigers an early powerplay. Tigers fans had some early hope when Griffin tapped the puck into the Jets net, but the goal was disallowed. Hull Jets continued to kill the penalty well, having been pressured with further shots on goal from Harrison, Jets, Davies and Washburn.
Jets found themselves on the offence where a scramble behind the Tigers net allowed Jets’ Beddoes to pass out to Jasecko who stood on the point, tapped the puck over Brown’s shoulder and into the Tigers net. Tigers hit back straight away with an even-handed goal of their own. Ben Washburn broke out of the Tigers zone, sending the puck up to Smith who skated through the Jets defence to hit a shot straight past Jackson to draw the sides level.
Just before the first period draw to a close, a well fought battle on the puck ended in the Jets’ favour where Taylor picked up the puck centre ice, skating straight past the Tigers defence to fire a shot straight over Brown’s glove and into the top right corner of the net. The period ended with Tigers trailing by one goal.
As the puck dropped for the second period, Tigers were eager to build on their score line. The play was end to end, but Tigers were looking dangerous. James Smith found himself picking up the puck in front of the Hull bench where he went charging down the ice sweeping through two Jets players. Smith tried to feed into Davies, but Hull’s Beddoes denied him of a chance. The puck stayed in Davies possession where he was then able to sweep the puck to Karol Jets who dinked the puck into the wide open net and skated off doing his signature goal celebration.
With the goal deficit growing for Jets, they powered on not giving Tigers an easy time on the ice. With physical and fast play, Jets’ Taylor was landed with a slashing penalty much to Jets’ despair. A face-off in the Jets zone provided the perfect set up for Tigers. Hunt won the draw where the puck was passed between Smith and Jets before Smith received the puck again where a staple slap slapshot smashed the puck past Jackson. As the buzzer sounded for the second period the Tigers fans rose to their feet giving the players a loud reception as they came off the ice and into the dressing room.
As the game went into the third and final period, neither team were showing any signs of slowing down.
An interference call on Boris Giba gave Tigers a man advantage going into the final five minutes of the game, but Jets found themselves even worse off when Kohen Taylor was also landed with a penalty for roughing. Already with a two-goal buffer, Tigers were keen to capitalise on the five on three powerplay.
Washburn takes the face off winning the draw, where the play allows Bartholomew to have a shot on goal, but Jackson saves. The puck remains in play, where Keyes attempts to dig the puck out. Another shot from Tigers’ Gordon puts the pressure on Jets, but it goes wide. The puck remains in the Jets zone where another face off is taken. Washburn wins a second draw and breaks the puck out to Griffin who passes the puck across the blueline to Liam Barthomew who slapshots the puck straight through Jackson’s legs.
The game headed into the final few minutes and despite the gaping aggregate score line, Jets weren’t giving up. With the majority of the play remaining in the Jets’ zone, Tigers were given an extra boost of momentum as they started to watch the clock countdown.
A big collision between Tigers’ Harrison and Jets’ Jasecko in front of the Tigers bench interrupted the visitors flow after a spell of the play being heavily in the Tigers zone. There was no break in play, and Tigers used it to their advantage regaining puck possession thanks to Karol Jets. The puck then smoothly went between Hunt and Smith without being intercepted before Paul Davies was shot low past Jackson to seal Tigers’ fifth and final goal of the game. The frustration well and truly hit Hull Jets by this point as Jasecko pushed the net off its moorings in anger.
Victory was in sight for Telford Tigers and with less than two minutes left on the clock, the crowd started to roar as the sound of the great escape bellowed around the rink. One last battle on the board from Tigers’ Matteri and Watt continued to put the pressure on Hull. With one last face off to go and only thirteen seconds remaining on the clock, Tigers fans, players and staff had already started to celebrate, being only seconds away from double winning champions.
The final buzzer sounded with players’ helmets, sticks and gloves going flying through the air whilst confetti cannons went off around the rink. As the crowd cheered on their winning tean, the players piled on Zack Brown as they celebrated becoming 2023 Laidler League Cup champions!
Hexagon Telford Tigers 5
Hull Jets 2
Agg score: (10-4)
Scorers: James Smith (2), Karol Jets, Liam Bartholomew, Paul Davies
Man of the match: Paul Davies
After the game Tigers 2 Coach Dougie Wildman commented: “Although we had a good lead coming into the game, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match. Hull came at us with everything and took the lead twice trying to upset the party. We were really happy with how the lads answered back in the second period and the way we managed the final twenty minutes was excellent. To win the Laidler League Cup as well as the playoffs this year was double the satisfaction. The team thoroughly deserved all the success they’ve had this season, purely for their dedication and determined. They have played as a team and that team togetherness is very strong. The lads have bought into the plays and systems set out by Scott and they just seem to have gotten stronger as the season progressed. Overall, we are very pleased and proud of the team.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give a huge thanks to all the volunteers and supporters who have been there with us on this journey as we couldn’t have done it without you. Now it’s time for some downtime and to enjoy the summer break.”