Hexagon Telford Tigers opened their National League campaign with the longest road trip of the season to Dumfries to take on the newest team in the league Solway Sharks. The Sharks had won the NIHL1 North league and NIHL1 playoffs last season and had made the decision to join the National League, replacing Basingstoke Bison who, due to issues with the rink in Basingstoke, had decided to not ice a team during the 2023/24 season.
Tigers’ pre-season results had been mixed with an 8-2 defeat in Peterborough last Saturday and a 6-3 victory at home the following day.
The team had travelled to Scotland without Jonathan Weaver, Ricky Plant, Joe Aston and Nick Oliver.
Tigers made a bright start to the game and scored their first goal of the new season in the tenth minute. Last season’s top scorer Vladimir Luka got off the mark with a trademark shot assisted by Scott McKenzie. That goal proved to be the only one in the opening period.
Midway through the second period, the hosts were level. Nolan Gardiner netting for Solway.
Not long after the goal Tigers lost defensive stalwart Danny Rose through injury. This spurred the visitors on as they regained the lead with a power play goal. New signings Jesse Sutton and Harry Ferguson combined to allow Ferguson to score his first goal for Telford.
Tigers once again held a one goal lead at the end of the period.
It was a very close game and the next goal went to the Sharks as they equalised again. Ross Murray scoring. Tigers then lost another defender with Jake Price leaving the game injured.
With five minutes remaining and down two defensemen, Tigers were up against it but managed to dig deep and score twice to win the game. With two minutes left on the clock, Zaine McKenzie opened his account for the year with a well taken goal and with Solway pulling their net minder for an extra attacker in the final minute, Ferguson scored his second of the game into the empty net to seal the victory and give Telford a boost before their long journey home.
Final Score: Solway Sharks 2 Hexagon Telford Tigers 4.
Scorers: Vladimir Luka, Harry Ferguson (2) and Zaine McKenzie.
Man of the match: Rhodes Mitchell-King.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “It was always going to be a close game.
They are a good team and have got some talented players and with the rink so different from what we are used to, it’s a tough place to play. We were late arriving and had no video time, no time to warm up off ice which was frustrating for the whole team. We competed hard all game, showed a lot of character and I’m delighted with a very good two points on the road. With it being 2-2 late in the game it could have easily gone the other way.”