On Saturday 9th March, Telford Tigers 2 welcomed Altrincham Aces to Telford Ice Rink for their final encounter of the season. Aces, who currently sit 8th in the league table. Despite the 24 point gap between the two teams, and three previous defeats against Tigers 2; Altrincham Aces were determined to take away the points from second place Tigers.
It was a tough battle from the first puck drop with both teams eager to get the first goal under their belt. It was very much end to end hockey to start, with absolutely no room for mistakes. Thankfully, Aces made the first mistake with a late hit penalty which was given at 12:50 which Tigers 2 manage to capitalise on when #94 James Smith bagged the first goal of the game at 13:00, with assists from Bowley and Griffin. Not long after, Tigers’ import Filip Supa made it 2 goals with an evenhanded goal at 17:55, assisted by Griffin and Harrison. The first period ended in the Tigers’ favour 2 goals to nil.
The second period started with a similar performance to the first, with the visiting finding themselves a man short after a minor penalty for inference was given to Aces’ Chapman at 22:14. Once again, Tigers 2 managed to take advantage of the power play opportunity and defensemen Josh Hustwick bagged the third Tigers goal of the game! With a 3 goal lead, it was looking quite rosey for Tigers 2 up until Aces managed to sneak the puck past Brown at 24:43 making the score 3-1. Both teams pressed on and it was clear that both teams wanted the win… Thankfully though, slick play from Harrison and Washburn providing Callum Griffin with a perfect goal opportunity which he seized at 32:51 – leading the Tigers to a 3 goal lead at the end of the second period.
The puck dropped for the third and final period, and the Aces were still eager to pull back some goals… The first of the period was an an Aces goal, timed at 47:28, closing the gap slowly but surely. Despite the attempt to close in on the home side, Tigers 2 didn’t back down, in-fact they responded quickly after with another ‘Supa’ goal at 49:10.
The period wasn’t short on some net action, with another goal from Smith at 51:36, assisted by Price and Washburn followed shortly by an Aces’ power play goal at 54:00. Not only was there plenty of net action, but Tigers’ #18 Hustwick found himself in the dressing room early after being given a match penalty for fighting with Aces’ Pavlicek. Just when we thought the action was over… Aces bounced back again with a short-handed goal at 56:14, closing the goal gap even more! With less than 4 minutes remaining, Tigers 2 continued with their best efforts until the final buzzer sounded. Much to the Tigers’ fans’ delight, they were treated to a James Smith hat trick when he bagged his third goal of the evening at 58:34, with an assist Filip Supa.
The final buzzer went and it was a sealed victory once again for Telford Tigers 2, making this the fourth win against the Aces this season.
Tigers 2 player coach Callum Bowley thought the team put in a great performance commenting;
“I thought we put in a great performance given a number of players were carrying injuries on the night. We came out very strong in the first period and dominated, then in the second I thought we took our foot off the gas and the third we let Altrincham back in the game with three goals. I chose to rest a few players in the third because of injuries and I was really pleased to see Chip (#18 Josh Hustwick) step up to fight Pavlicek given he was running wild all night. No one has the right to take liberties on players and what Chip did was completely justified for me, and I would expect any team to respond in the way we did.
It was our final home game of the season and it’s another win, so we’ll take that and keep pushing on. Right now our focus is on keeping our momentum and getting everyone back to full fitness in time for our next game which is away to Coventry. On behalf of the team and the Club, I would personally like to thank everyone who has turned up to support the D2 team and the club throughout all of our home games and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Widnes.”
Tigers 2 continue their league campaign in Blackburn on Sunday 10th March where they will face Blackburn Hawks 2 for a final time this season. The following weekend, it’s another away game against local rivals Coventry Blaze NIHL who currently sit 6th in the league table.