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Luka Makes Sharks Pay The Penalty

Hexagon Telford Tigers returned to home ice to face Solway Sharks after a road win against Peterborough Phantoms the previous evening. Tigers ran out 3-2 winners after a solid performance and two goals from Jesse Sutton.

With Tigers closing in on a guaranteed play off place, the visitors were in a battle with Bees and Raiders for the final two places. Solway sat in ninth place at start of play, three points behind their rivals. Tigers had a seven point cushion and knew a win in this game would see them qualify for the end of season playoffs.

Tigers were still without Harry Ferguson through suspension and Jack Watkins was unavailable.

Tigers were sluggish during the first period and could not get their passing game going although an early shot from Vladimir Luka hit the cross bar. Luka then hit the post with a wrist shot shortly after. The only goal of the first period was scored by the visitors whilst on the power play.  With Joe Aston serving a boarding penalty, Oliver Arseneau set up John Dunbar who scored with a low shot into the bottom right hand corner of Brad Day’s goal.

Tigers had a glorious chance to get level when Scot McKenzie was hooked when clear on goal and a penalty shot was awarded. But the Tigers’ captain shot straight at Sharks’ Calum Hepburn with his penalty shot.

Early in the second period the home side were level. A great pass from Archie Hazeldine picked out the unmarked Vladimir Luka in the right circle, allowing Luka to smash the puck past Hepburn. Telford then went ahead for the first time in the game with Hazeldine hitting a low shot from the blue line past Hepburn for his second goal of the weekend.

But the Sharks struck back with two goals in a minute to regain the lead. A shot from Dunbar was tipped in front of Brad Day by Nolan Gardiner giving Day no chance of stopping it. Then a pass was blocked by Nick Oliver that dropped kindly for Gardiner who shot low past Day to put the Sharks back in front.

In the final minute of the second period, Telford were level again and it was Luka once again that scored. The puck broke to Luka in the slot and he shot through Hepburn into the net for his second of the night.

A goalless third period saw the game go to overtime.

Ninety seconds into overtime Luka broke in on goal and was slashed as he was about to shoot and Tigers were awarded a second penalty shot.  Luka skated in slowly and then sent a wrist shot to Hepburn’s left and scored to win the game.

Tigers completed a four point weekend and with the win gained a place in the end of season playoffs.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 4 Solway Sharks 3 (after overtime).

Scorers: Vladimir Luka (3) and Archie Hazeldine.

Man of the match: Vladimir Luka.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “We have been very focused on qualification for the post season of late and to come away from the weekend with four points plus the bonus of qualifying for the playoffs at the first opportunity is a good achievement and it is good to get the job done. 

I think Solway came out and were the better team in the first period then in the second period we really found some rhythm  and established a strong forecheck. We created a lot of good chances but we suffered two sucker punches against the run of the play. We stuck with it and managed to get it tied up before the end of the period. Then in third period both teams almost cancelled each other out. We got a bit of a break of the puck in overtime for Vlad (Luka) to earn a penalty shot to secure the points.”

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