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Luka Formidable as Tigers Swarm Bees

Hexagon Telford Tigers faced off against the Bees for the third time this season, having lost to their opponents twice in overtime in their previous meetings. Tigers lost their only game of last weekend to Swindon and sat fourth in the league. Long term absentees Jonathan Weaver, Ricky Plant, Sam Watkins and Danny Rose all unavailable, as was Connor Lee.

Tigers made a sloppy start to the game and almost conceded in the opening minute for the second game running but were bailed out by Brad Day. Telford didn’t clear the puck from their defensive zone and almost paid the price several times. Once the opening five minutes were out of the way, Telford started to get their passing going and Harry Ferguson drew a blocker save out of Brett Shepherd in the Bees’ goal. With thirteen minutes gone, Telford took the lead. Scott McKenzie exchanged passes with Jesse Sutton who passed across the slot to Vladimir Luka allowing Luka to smash the puck past Shepherd low to his right, to open the scoring. The goal was the fans’ cue to throw teddies onto the ice for Telford Tigers’ annual teddy toss in support of the Children’s Ward at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.

The second period belonged to Tigers who put the sloppy first period behind them to return to their goal scoring best. Midway through the period, Sutton sent a superb inch-perfect pass from by the boards in the Bees’ defensive zone to the stick of Luka who deflected it past Shepherd from close range to double the home side’s lead. Thirty seconds later Telford had a third goal. Jaden Peca sent the puck in front of goal where Fin Howells deftly directed it past Shepherd with his stick behind his back. Two minutes later Tigers added a fourth while on the power play. Gianni Vital was serving a penalty for throwing the stick of an opponent when McKenzie found Lucas Price who was unmarked in front of goal. Price shot from close range beating Shepherd with a low shot.  

With the contest slipping away from Bees, the game became fractious with Will Stead awarded a five minute game misconduct for roughing after he went after Jake Price away from the puck. The penalty saw Stead ejected from the game. With an extra attacker, Tigers made the visitors pay again on the power play. Rhodes Mitchell-King passed across to the right circle where Luka hammered a trademark “Bazooka” slap shot into the top left hand corner of the Bees’ goal to give Telford a fifth goal and Luka a hat trick.

The third period was equally fractious and full of goals.  Bees finally got on the score board early in the third period with a goal from Marcel Balaz. Telford hit back within thirty seconds with a superb goal by Sutton. The Canadian import forward took possession of the puck in the Bees’ defensive zone, skated in on goal at a tight angle and hit an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner of the the goal for Tigers’ sixth goal. Two minutes later, Tigers had a seventh goal. A shot from the blue line by Nick Oliver was tipped past Shepherd by Peca.

The penalties continued for both teams when Bees’ Harvey Stead joined his brother in the changing rooms early when he caught Mitchell-King with a check to the head. Mitchell-King objected to the hit and dropped the gloves, both continued to throw punches when both players ended up on the ice. Stead was ejected from the game along with Mitchell-King.

With ten minutes of the game left, Brad Day was replaced in goal by Matty Bloor.

Tigers scored their eighth goal of the game and Luka scored a remarkable fourth goal with a thunderous slap shot into the top right hand corner of the Bees’ goal.

Bees scored two late consolation goals through Aidan Doughty and Balaz but Tigers ran out comfortable winners.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 8 Bees 4.

Scorers: Vladimir Luka (4), Lucas Price, Fin Howells, Jesse Sutton and Jaden Peca.

Man of the match: Nick Oliver.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “I’m pleased to finally get a win over the Bees. After a slow start where they came out at us pretty hard and kept us on the back foot, it was good to get the first goal and see the teddies fly onto the ice. I thought the atmosphere was a little flat in the first period which kind of reflected the performance we gave. 

We stepped it up in the second period with some well taken goals five on five and on the power play. It was good to kill the game off at that point and get a deserved win.”

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