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Luka the Overtime Hero for Tigers

Hexagon Telford Tigers returned to home ice after the opening weekend of the season saw the Shropshire team pick up three points but disappointed to not get all four points on offer after an overtime loss to Bees.

Tigers were notified this week that import forward Jesse Sutton will be suspended for six games after being ejected from the Bees game for a check to the head. Tigers were also without Danny Rose, Nick Oliver, Jonathan Weaver and Connor Lee for the game 

Tigers made a bright start to the contest and took the lead in the fourth minute. Scott McKenzie hit a great shot from a very tight angle which hit the post and snuck past Raiders’ net minder Ethan James in the Raiders’ goal.

Within a minute Raiders were level. Zac Milton hit a low shot past Brad Day to equalise. But Tigers hit back themselves with a goal two minutes later. Harry Ferguson took possession of the puck in the Raiders’ defensive zone and fought his way to the net jamming the puck past James to restore the home side’s lead.

Early in the second period, with a penalty on Ricky Plant held over from the first period, Raiders equalised. Jake Sylvester netting with a shot from in the slot with Day stranded out of position.

The visitors gained their first lead of the night six minutes later when Louie Newell turned the puck over in his own defensive zone allowing Brandon Ayliffe to find Mikey Power who shot past Day.

Two minutes from the end of the period Tigers were level. A speculative shot from the corner of the left circle by the boards from Vladimir Luka saw James make an error and fumble the puck into the net. But Tigers were level for less than a minute as Raiders scored their fourth goal, TJay Anderson scoring with a shot through a crowd of players beating Day low down.

The start of the third period saw the game get feisty with a clear infraction on Sam Watkins not called and Raiders and Tigers players having an altercation which saw Raiders’ Callum Wells ejected for third man in and Tigers gaining a much needed power play.

Telford took full advantage of the extra attacker when Fin Howells skated unchallenged on goal and forced the puck past James to level the scores. 

Raiders regained the lead shortly after with Tigers’ defence failing to clear the puck allowing Sylvester to set up Ayliffe to score into the open net.

Tigers pushed hard for the equaliser and were presented with an ideal chance to get even five minutes from the end of the game. With Raiders already a man down due to a too many men on the ice penalty, Aaron Connolly was called for high sticking and Tigers had a 5-on-3 power play.

Telford worked the puck well and saw Rhodes Mitchell-King pass to Luka who set up Howells to smash home the puck and give Tigers a deserved fifth goal.

With no further goals in regulation time the game went to overtime.

The crucial moment in overtime came after two minutes when former Tigers’ player Blaho Novak was called for illegal equipment after losing his helmet and not immediately skating off the ice. Novak attempted to put his helmet back on and continue to play but was called by referee Hands, gifting Telford a man advantage. Tigers controlled the power play well and a Howells shot was well saved by James but Luka was on hand to hammer home the rebound and give Tigers their first home win of the season.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 6 Raiders 5 (after overtime).

Scorers: Fin Howells (2), Vladimir Luka (2), Scott McKenzie and Harry Ferguson.

Man of the match: Fin Howells.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “What a game of hockey and to win in overtime after coming from behind is such a good feeling after last Sunday’s defeat.

I really liked our performance tonight, we were totally committed which is something I’ve seen in this group every game but the way we moved the puck, managed pressure, got good exits from our defensive zone and transition was the difference. I was heavily critical of the team last Sunday but the work they have put in this week to improve some areas of our game paid dividends this evening.”

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