Hexagon Telford Tigers took their final road trip of the season to Scotland to take on the Sharks in Dumfries. Tigers had lost seven consecutive games and their most recent defeat was a tough one to take. Having been 4-1 up at the end of the second period against Sheffield, they had collapsed to lose 5-4 and were desperate to get a victory to close out the year. Jaden Peca was unavailable after being ejected from the Sheffield game for slew footing – a penalty that nobody in the rink with the exception of the officials could believe had been called. Tigers were able to add Archie Hazeldine to the roster after his recent signing.
A scrappy first period saw little in the way of scoring opportunities but Telford were unlucky when a Jesse Sutton shot was cleared off the line. More of the same followed in the second period with both teams struggling to create any offense. Sutton was again Tigers most effective player and he forced a shorthanded chance when Connor Lee was serving a holding penalty. Sutton broke towards goal and net minder Curtis Warburton’s stick broke with the force of Sutton’s shot but the Tigers’ forward’s follow up shot was blocked and then cleared.
The longer the game went without a goal, the more the first goal would be crucial and thankfully for the large following of fans that had travelled from Shropshire it was the visitors that got it early in the third period.
Kell Beattie was awarded a delay of game penalty for covering the puck during a goalmouth scramble giving Tigers a power play. Within twenty seconds Tigers scored. Hazeldine sent a pass across the ice to Vladimir Luka who sent a first time shot low past net minder Curtis Warburton.
Less than a minute later Telford had a second goal. James Smith’s shot was saved by Warburton and deflected high into the air. Louie Newell reacted quickest by catching the puck mid air, dropping it onto his stick and then lifting it over the prone Warburton to double the lead.
With the game entering the final five minutes Telford had to defend resolutely as Solway were pushing hard to get back into the game. But Brad Day and the Tigers’ defence stood tall and blocked everything thrown at them.
With just over a minute of the game left Rhodes Mitchell-King was called for a cross check allowing Solway to have a power play and to pull Warburton from the goal to add an extra attacker. With the Sharks having a two man advantage the Tigers’ fans got even more noisy to spur the team to victory. The penalty kill unit defended superbly and sealed the win with a shot from their own defensive zone. Hazeldine sent a shot the length of the ice into the empty net to seal a much needed win and put an end to the run of consecutive defeats.
Final Score: Solway Sharks 0 Hexagon Telford Tigers 3.
Scorers: Vladimir Luka, Louie Newell and Archie Hazeldine.
Man of the match: Brad Day.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “That was a big win, an important win and a battling performance from the whole team. It was a very tight game and you felt whoever scored first it was going to be a big goal. Importantly we backed that first goal up with a second in a short space of time to take an additional advantage.
We played desperate and certainly sacrificed the body a lot, blocking shots, with some huge blocks in that last five minutes. We had tremendous support on the road from the Tigers’ fans which is massively appreciated by us all. I hope everyone got home safely and can enjoy a happy new year.”