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Luka Hat Trick Sends Tigers to Victory

Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Bristol for their final away league game of the season to take on the bottom of the league Pitbulls in the first of a home and home double header.

Tigers still had something to play for with fifth place in the league up for grabs. Tigers needed to better Peterborough Phantoms’ results this weekend to finish ahead of them and gain a place in Group A of the play offs. Tigers who came into the game having won four games in a row remained without the suspended Harry Ferguson.

Tigers made a bright start to the game and took the lead after four minutes when a shot from a tight angle by Fin Howells surprisingly beat Bristol netminder Ben Norton. Bristol hit back with a goal from Adam Harding who got the last touch during a goal mouth scramble. Shortly after, with Jake Price serving an interference penalty, Bristol took the lead. Sean Morris was unmarked in front of goal and lifted the puck over Tigers’ net minder Matty Bloor to score.

Telford were level early in the second period when Joe Aston hit a shot from the left circle which flew past Norton who was unsighted. But minutes later Bristol were back ahead with a goal from a 3-on-1 breakaway which was finished by Jacob White-Sey. 

Tigers drew level shortly after with Vladimir Luka being sent clear by a pin point pass from Price and Luka lifted the puck over the sprawling Norton to score Telford’s third goal.

Tigers were back in front with a power play goal. Recce Cochrane was serving a hooking penalty when Tom Byrne hit a back handed wrist shot past Norton. Telford then added a further power play goal after Neil Liddiard was awarded a kneeing penalty. Tiger’s power play unit controlled the puck well and a perfect pass from Archie Hazeldine allowed Luka to hammer home a slap shot for Telford’s fifth goal.

There was still time in the second period for Bristol to pull a goal back despite missing a penalty shot. Elliot Lewis was given the chance to strike back with a penalty shot but his effort was brilliantly saved by Bloor with his blocker.  At the same time the penalty shot was called, Price was awarded an unsporting conduct penalty allowing the Pitbulls a power play opportunity after the penalty shot was saved and the home side took the chance when Max Birbraer scored to reduce Telford’s lead to one.

A too many men penalty against Bristol was called at the end of the second period giving Telford a man advantage to start the third period. Within nineteen seconds of the restart Tigers had a sixth goal. Scott McKenzie and Howells combined well to pick out Luka to smash home his third goal of the game.

Telford weren’t finished with the scoring and added another power play goal when Lewis was called for tripping. Jesse Sutton broke in on goal at speed and slotted the puck past Norton.

The final goal of the game went to Jaden Peca who scored a terrific wrist shot from in the slot after being sent in on goal by Sutton’s pass.

Tigers’ victory coupled with Peterborough’s win over Bees meant that the battle for fifth place would go to the final game of the season.

Final Score: Bristol Pitbulls 4 Hexagon Telford Tigers 8.

Scorers: Vladimir Luka (3), Fin Howells, Joe Aston, Tom Byrne, Jesse Sutton and Jaden Peca.

Man of the match: Vladimir Luka

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “We knew Bristol would start fast in their final home  game of the season in front of a sell out crowd and we were a little sloppy with puck control through the neutral zone and too many odd man rushes against us but we stuck with it and grew into the game. The power play was lethal for us – four goals from four power play chances – and although we gave up a goal on one of their power plays I thought we were fairly solid with our special teams tonight. The third period was our best of the game, we were hard to play against and scored some well worked goals.”

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