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Tigers’ “Roller Coaster” Victory

Hexagon Telford Tigers faced off against Raiders on Saturday night keen to add points to the gap between the two sides in the race for the playoffs. With Raiders one place and four points behind Telford the visitors would need to gain the victory to close the gap on the hosts. Telford were without Deakan Fielder through suspension.

Tigers came out of the blocks at top speed and took advantage of a lacklustre first period from the Raiders, opening the scoring after five minutes. Fin Howells sent Jaden Peca in on goal and Peca shot low past Raiders’ net minder Ethan James. Tigers were on top form and added a second with a superb flowing move when Howells and Scott McKenzie set up Vladimir Luka. Then James Smith added a third with a terrific piece of skill to control the puck in front of Raiders’ goal and with his back to goal, shot between his own legs and past James. The gloss was added to an excellent period when Jesse Sutton added a fourth goal. Peca was again at the heart of the attack with an inch perfect pass to Sutton who deflected the puck expertly past James.

If the first period belonged to the home side the second period definitely belonged to the visitors. After changing net minders and replacing James for Brad Windebank, Raiders pulled a goal back thirty seconds into the period after slack play by Brad Day turned over the puck, allowing Adam Laishram to score. Six minutes later Raiders and Laishram added a second goal with a tap in. With the home side reeling a third goal followed with a power play goal from Jake Sylvester and unbelievably a minute later Raiders were level after Sylvester scored again with the Tigers defense missing in action. WIth the ice tilted Raiders scored a fifth goal when Laishram completed his hat trick with a low shot. It got worse a minute later when Sylvester scored with a back handed shot into the roof of the net for his third goal of the game and Raiders’ sixth. Telford called a time out to try to get some structure back into their game. As the period entered the final minute Tigers pulled a goal back when Peca sent a superb pass to the unmarked Sutton who waited out Windebank and shot past him to reduce the deficit.

Tigers opened the third period by hitting the post when Howells’ shot snuck past Windebank but bounced off the iron. Day then made a terrific glove save from a Brandon Ayliffe break away.

Telford had recovered from their awful second period and were level six minutes into the third period. Luka scored his second of the game with an absolute thunderbolt of a slap shot from a tight angle. Luka’s shot was so powerful that Windebank was injured attempting to save it and he had to leave the game to be replaced by James.

James conceded again a minute after rejoining the game when good work by Tom Byrne and Smith allowed Louie Newell to fire a wrist shot from the slot past James to put Telford back in front.

Three minutes from the end of the game Tigers gave themselves a two goal cushion when Sutton completed his hat trick after being sent clear on goal by Smith’s pass.

With a minute left in the game, Raiders pulled James from the goal but could not get back into the game and both Smith and Harry Ferguson missed empty net chances but neither mattered as Tigers won a game they had looked like throwing away.

Final score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 8 Raiders 6.

Scorers: Jesse Sutton (3), Vladimir Luka (2), Peca, James Smith, and Louie Newell.

Man of the match: Jesse Sutton.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “What a roller coaster of a game! We made a great start to get four up after the first period. We then had a middle period we don’t want to experience ever again, giving up six unanswered goals looking very disjointed and with a lot going on I didn’t like. We then had a third period where we came out and executed perfectly what we needed to do, coming from a goal behind we showed a lot of quality. 

I’m sure the fans got the full value of the ticket money tonight and we had loads of momentum changes and ups and downs. It is an important two points against a close rival in the league.”

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