Tigers 2 secure three goal advantage in Cup Final. Hexagon Telford Tigers 2 travelled to Hull for the first leg of the Laidler Cup final on Saturday night. With Tigers picking up their first piece of silverware a week prior at the Laidler Playoffs, they were ready to take on fellow foes Hull Jets in another top team showdown.
Tigers were again missing several players for the game including Joe Aston, Charlie Webb, Filip Supa, Geoff Wigglesworth, Oli Johnson, Dan Harrison, Liam Preece, James Callagher and Corey Teece joining the lengthy list of absentees.
An early penalty for the hosts gave Tigers the first powerplay of the game after Kerman was given two minutes for slashing. As usual, the Jets penalty kill unit was solid, making it difficult for Telford to breakout. Jets returned to full strength and Tigers continued to pile on the pressure, particularly from Telford forward Paul Davies.
The stalemate was broken when Smith and Mitchell set up the perfect play for Karol Jets to find the back of the Hull net. The one goal lead was short lived when the hosts found their rhythm to equalise less than 30 seconds later. Tigers’ Callum Griffin found himself in the penalty box alongside Hull’s Jasecko after the pair had an exchange in the Jets’ zone, followed by Tigers’ Keyes and Hull’s Giba just ahead of the first period buzzer. The period ended one goal apiece.
The puck dropped for the second period and Tigers started strong with shots from James Smith and Conor Gordon. Another penalty for the Jets left them shorthanded once again, but successfully killed the penalty, maintaining the one apiece scores until James Smith took Tigers to two goals, followed by Karol Jets picking up his second goal of the game. The period ended with Jets trailing Tigers one goal to three.
As the game headed into the third and final period of the cup final first leg, the pace was still far from slow. Penalties for Tigers early into the period for Karol Jets and Mike Jones provided the hosts with a five on three chance, but they weren’t able to capitalise and before long found themselves shorthanded. Tigers took full advantage and dominated the ice, allowing James Smith to snap up not only his second goal of the game, but also a hattrick goal taking the score line four goals to one for Tigers.
Jets picked up their second goal of the game with less than ten minutes to go, giving the hosts some momentum with some testing shots on Tigers’ netminder Zack Brown. A crucial block from defenceman Conor Gordon protected Tigers’ three goal buffer, but the Jets pushed their physical play even more.
Two further penalties for the hosts left them fighting for offensive breakouts with only four minutes of the game remaining. They went on to call a timeout with thirty seconds to go, but nothing significate materialised out of the decision. The seconds on the clock began to count down and the small number of Telford fans who had travelled to support, stood from their seats to cheer on Tigers until the final buzzer sounded.
The game ended with Tigers taking home a three goal advantage ahead of the second-leg fixture the following week.
Hull Jets 2
Hexagon Telford Tigers 5
Scorers: Karol Jets (2), James Smith (3)
Man of the match: #4 Karol Jets
After the game Tigers 2 Coach Dougie Wildman commented: “
Hull have proven to be our stiffest test all year, again. We were fresh off the back of becoming playoff champions, beating Hull convincingly in the final and we were under no illusions than the first leg of the cup final would be an easy game.
It was a very close and edgy game for both teams until we found our groove and confidence to start moving the puck like we have been in previous games. Our defence core stood solid and continued to be composed throughout which gave forwards the confidence to show some flair. We scored some great goals at important moments of the game which seemed to take the jam out of Hull’s doughnut. We knew they wouldn’t just roll over and they forged a fight back in the third. Our Zachary Brownious had another great game keeping us in it a number of times.
We’re looking forward to the second-leg and although we have a three goal lead, we’re alive to what happened last season when in a very similar position.
It’s our last game of the season and we will look to do our best, avoid similar mistakes to last season. Hopefully we can pick up the last piece of silverware to end another successful season for Tigers 2.”
Match night tickets can be purchased in advance either online or at Telford Ice Rink box office. Online advanced tickets are now available to purchase online or by clicking here.