Tigers’ Dozen Clips Hawks’ Wings. Hexagon Telford Tigers 1 took on Blackburn Hawks on Saturday night at Telford Ice Rink in an NIHL Moralee Division game. Tigers started the game in fourth place after spending much of the recent schedule playing in cup action. Tigers had a full roster for the game with the exception of the injured Denis Bell and Warren Tait plus the suspended Brodie Jesson. Recent signing Sam Gospel featured in his first home game since re-signing for the club.
Tigers almost went a goal down early on when Blackburn’s Ross Kennedy had a good chance but was denied by Gospel with a leg pad save. Shortly after, Tigers had a power play when Blackburn’s Peta Valusiak was called for hooking. First Adam Taylor and then Doug Clarkson had glorious chances to open the scoring but Taylor’s shot went through the goal crease and Clarkson’s close range shot was turned away by Blackburn net minder Harrison Walker. Blackburn’s goal was living a charmed life as Jason Silverthorn went close with a wrist shot and Andy McKinney’s shot was blocked by a Blackburn defender. Tigers finally got the opening goal of the contest in the 14th minute when Jonathan Weaver expertly picked out the onrushing Clarkson who shot low through Walker’s legs to give Tigers the lead. The goal saw Tigers’ fans throw teddies on the ice in the traditional teddy bear toss which takes place annually in December, with all teddies donated to the Telford Princess Royal Hospital. Tigers continued to dominate the game and were gifted a second goal in the 16th minute when Walkers’ attempted clearance went straight to the stick of Silverthorn, who buried a wrist shot into the net before Walker could regain his position. Tigers were forced to kill off two penalties towards the end of the period with Nick Oliver being awarded penalties for kneeing and holding. Tigers ended the period 2-0 ahead.
A minute into the second period, Tigers scored their third of the game when Adam Taylor tipped Corey Goodison’s shot past Walker from close range. Two minutes later, Tigers added a fourth goal. Silverthorn scoring his second of the night after getting the faintest of touches to redirect a shot from Andy McKinney into the net. Just thirty seconds later, the game was over as a contest when Ricky Plant created space for himself with excellent stick handling and then deked the net minder before backhanding the puck into the empty net for Tigers’ fifth goal. Tigers were again gifted a goal, in the 28th minute after Blackburn defender Luke Boothroyd passed straight to Taylor who was standing in front of the Blackburn goal, Taylor picked out the corner of the net with a precise shot for the sixth goal. The final goal of the period was scored in the 36th minute, Plant brilliantly set up the unmarked Goodison for a shot from close range. Tigers ended the period 7-0 ahead.
Tigers started the third period with an eighth goal, Clarkson scoring his second of the night with a powerful slap shot after being set up by Taylor. Shortly after, Jack Watkins added a ninth goal, tucking home a rebound from Weaver’s shot. McKinney scored the tenth in the 52nd minute, tipping a Weaver shot past Walker. Blackburn managed to get on the scoresheet late in the game when Aaron Davies’ shot was saved by Gospel but Danielius Nomanovas scored on the rebound. The referee blew the whistle to stop play before the puck entered the net but still awarded the goal. There was still time for Tigers to score two further goals. Watkins added his second goal from Plant’s pass and was closely followed by Clarkson completing his hat trick with a brilliant solo goal. Clarkson skated from centre ice, beat three Blackburn defenders and put the puck through Walkers’ legs from a tight angle. Tigers’ win lifts them to third in the league, three points behind leaders Sheffield Steeldogs with a game in hand.
Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 12 Blackburn Hawks 1.
Scorers: Clarkson (3), Silverthorn (2), Taylor (2), Watkins (2) Goodison, Plant, McKinney.
Man of the match: Adam Taylor.
After the game coach Tom Watkins said, “ It was a very comfortable victory this evening with the game effectively over after the first period. I’m annoyed about the goal we conceded late on. The official made a huge error which cost us our shutout. It should never have been given as a good goal as she blew the whistle well before the Blackburn player shot the puck. I have no idea why it was allowed to stand. “
Watkins added “We’re very grateful to everyone who donated teddy bears this evening. Thank you so much to all the fans.”
Hexagon Telford Tigers 1 return to play at Telford Ice Rink Saturday 15th December at 19:00 in the NIHL Moralee Conference against Nottingham Lions. Hexagon Telford Tigers 2 are next in home action at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday 16th December at 18:00 in the NIHL Laidler Conference against Blackburn Hawks 2.