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Fin Formidable as Tigers Hit Ten!

Hexagon Telford Tigers returned to home ice after being shut out by Milton Keynes in their previous game. Tigers had won only one game in seven so needed to find some form to ensure they would be taking part in the end of season playoffs with just six points separating the teams between sixth and ninth.

Tigers made the perfect start to the game with a goal in the opening minute. Fin Howells scoring with a low shot from the top of the right circle. The goal was Howells’ hundredth goal for the club.

Sheffield were pressuring the Tigers’ goal and got level with a goal straight from a face off win. Matt Bissonnette won a face off draw and Jack Brammer sent the puck low past Brad Day to equalise. Three minutes later, Tigers were back in front. A low shot from the blue line by Rhodes Mitchell-King surprisingly beat Sheffield net minder Dimitri Zimozdra who appeared unsighted. 

Five minutes from the end of the period Tigers had a third goal. An unnecessary penalty was called on Bissonnette when he argued an icing call with referee Hamilton and was awarded an unsporting conduct penalty gifting Telford a power play. Good passing between Archie Hazeldine and Howells allowed Scott McKenzie to fire home from the slot to put Tigers firmly ahead.

Shortly after, a fourth goal followed. A powerful slap shot from Vladimir Luka was saved by Zimozdra with his pads but the rebound fell to Howells who shot into the open net.

Disappointingly, Telford conceded just before the end of the period with some slack defending allowing Lee Haywood to score from close range.

Sheffield changed net minder at the start of the second period with Daniel Crowe replacing Zimozdra.  As the period progressed, Crowe got away with kicking the net off twice but the third time was called for delay of game and Bissonnette was called for high sticking giving Telford an extended 5-on-3 power play. Twenty seconds into the power play, Tigers had a fifth goal. Jesse Sutton scored off his own rebound from close range. Two minutes later – whilst still on the power play – Telford had a sixth goal. Howells completed his hat trick with a shot from the left circle that went through Crowe who wasn’t fairing any better than the net minder he replaced.

Mitchell-King took a puck to the face forcing him off the ice briefly for treatment.

A controversial moment occurred midway through the period. A late high hit on Aidan Wilson by Sam Cooper was called by the officials but Louie Newell cross checked Cooper and Wilson skated into Crowe causing him to try and fight Wilson who skated away to the corner of the rink. Brammer went after Wilson and tried to punch him but Deakan Fielder got there first and went for Brammer.  

Bizarrely, the officials only called the first hit as a minor penalty but awarded Wilson a game misconduct for charging and he was ejected from the game. Fielder was also ejected for resisting an official. Somehow Crowe escaped a penalty leaving Tigers facing a five minute penalty kill for an infraction caused by Sheffield. 

On the resultant power play, Tigers defended superbly but Sheffield pulled a goal back through a long range shot from Brady Doxey.  With Telford back to full strength, Tigers added a seventh goal. Great play by Tom Byrne and Howells led to Vladimir Luka skating in on goal and hammering a shot over Crowe’s shoulder.

Sheffield pulled a goal back early in the third period when Brammer was awarded a penalty shot after being stopped when in on goal. Brammer scored with the penalty shot after beating Day with a low wrist shot.

But Telford hit straight back with an eighth goal. Howells scored his fourth of the game after great battling from McKenzie won the puck for Tigers in the Sheffield defensive zone allowing Howells to shoot past Crowe again.

As the game entered the final stages, Tigers fans were urging the team to score more goals and a ninth goal was scored when a shot from James Smith hit a Sheffield defender’s stick and bounced over Crowe’s outstretched arm and into the goal.

The home crowd got their wish for a tenth goal in the final minute of the game when a fierce slap shot from Luka went through Crowe’s glove and past him into the goal, sealing a miserable night for both Sheffield net minders.

Tigers’ win takes them a step closer to sealing the points needed to guarantee a play off place.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 10 Sheffield Steeldogs 4. 

Scorers: Fin Howells (4), Vladimir Luka (2) Scott McKenzie, Rhodes Mitchell-King, James Smith and Jesse Sutton.

Man of the match: Fin Howells.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “I felt we didn’t get going until after the first period as we didn’t manage our play of the puck well enough and gave away a lot of odd man rushes and scoring chances. We were far better when we got into our structure, systems and puck movement. We established a strong forecheck moving our feet but turned over a number of pucks in our zone. We need to get in the habit of playing the right way every night, that means being tough to play against, solid defensively and focusing on having three players above the puck in all situations.”

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