Tigers Hit Eight as Billingham’s Star Fades. Hexagon Telford Tigers 1 took on Billingham Stars at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday night in the NIHL Moralee Division. Tigers had beaten Billingham 5-3 in Billingham last Sunday, in the NIHL North Cup and had the chance to close the gap on league leaders Sheffield Steeldogs.
Tigers lined up without Jason Silverthorn, Warren Tait, Denis Bell and Joe Hazeldine but were able to add Henry Adams and back up net minder Ryan Lewis to the line up.
Tigers started the game with a purpose and were hitting hard from the first whistle. In the 3rd minute Jonathan Weaver almost scored with a cheeky shot from a tight angle and then Doug Clarkson’s powerful shot went in and out of the glove of Billingham net minder Mark Watson but he was able to recover the puck. In the 8th minute Tigers had a goal disallowed, Adam Taylor’s shot was saved by Watson but the puck bounced off him and dropped into the net. Referee Pickett had already blown the whistle before the puck entered the net and therefore he washed out the goal. Tigers pressured Billingham and it finally paid off in the 14th minute when Clarkson hammered a shot from the blue line which Watson could only parry, Adam Taylor raced in and smashed the rebound into the net to give Tigers the lead. Immediately from the face off after the goal, Tigers broke into the Billingham defensive zone and Watson was forced to make a stunning double save, first from Andy McKinney and then Taylor on the rebound. Shortly after, Watson pulled off an even better save after Clarkson and Taylor had a 2 on 1 breakaway. Clarkson fed a perfect pass to Taylor who shot at goal from close range but Watson managed to keep the puck out with a sprawling leg pad save. Watson could do nothing about Tigers’ second goal which was scored in the 18th minute. Billingham gave the puck away in their defensive zone, Dan Mitchell picked up possession and skated in on goal and sent a back handed shot low down into the bottom corner. Tigers ended a dominant period 2-0 ahead.
Tigers started the 2nd period on the penalty kill as Dan Mitchell was given a hooking penalty. But, despite the numerical disadvantage, Tigers came closest to scoring when Andy McKinney was sent clear on a breakaway. Once again, Watson made a good save to prevent Tigers scoring. In the 24th minute, Tigers scored their third goal. Jordan Stokes sent a pass from his own blue line to Clarkson, who threaded a pass through the defence to the unmarked McKinney who fired a wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
Tigers then handed a huge advantage to Billingham when Mitchell was given a boarding penalty and just 4 seconds later, Jonathan Weaver was called for delay of the game, meaning the Stars would have almost two minutes of 5 on 3 power play. Just 9 seconds into the power play, Chris Sykes scored with a slap shot from the blue line which gave Tom Hovell in the Tigers’ goal no chance. Tigers continued to dominate possession and shots on goal with Weaver, Brodie Jesson and Ricky Plant all being denied by Watson in the Billingham goal. Tigers ended the period ahead 3-1.
In the 3rd period Adam Taylor created a chance for himself with some excellent stick handling whilst Tigers were shorthanded but Watson again denied him. As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Tigers finally took the chances that came their way. Doug Clarkson hit a rocket of a shot that flew past Watson into the top right hand corner to score Tigers’ fourth. Dan Mitchell then scored with a tap in from close range after a goal mouth scramble for the fifth. Shortly after, Watson mishandled the puck behind his goal gifting the puck to Clarkson who scored into the empty net for his second of the night and Tigers’ sixth. Tigers added a seventh goal in the 56th minute after McKinney played a perfect pass to the unmarked Scott McKenzie at the far post. The final goal of the game was scored whilst Tigers were shorthanded. Brodie Jesson stole the puck off a Billingham defender and slid it past Watson for Tigers’ eighth.
Tigers’ win takes them up to 2nd in the league, 3 points behind leaders Sheffield with a game in hand.
Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 8 Billingham Stars 1
Scorers: Adam Taylor, Dan Mitchell (2), Andy McKinney, Doug Clarkson (2), Scott McKenzie and Brodie Jesson.
Man of the match: Jack Watkins.
After the game coach Tom Watkins said, “It was a solid performance from start to finish. I think we should have put the game to bed during the second period where we created a ton of good chances.
I liked our intensity, we played hard and I liked our physical play, Jack (Watkins), Jordan (Stokes) and Danny (Rose) really stepped up in that department.
I think the atmosphere in the rink this evening was great, the fans got behind the boys.”
Watkins added, “The pre game Remembrance Day service was very well observed and I would like to thank Musician Bailey for making it a special occasion. What we do on the ice pales into insignificance compared to the men and women of the armed services. We salute each and every one of you.”
Hexagon Telford Tigers 1 return to play at Telford Ice Rink Sunday 18th November at 18:00 in the NIHL North Cup against Hull Pirates. Hexagon Telford Tigers 2 are next in home action at Telford Ice Rink on Saturday 17th November at 19:00 in the NIHL Laidler Conference against Coventry Blaze NIHL.