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Tigers’ Season Ends with Overtime Heartbreak against Phantoms.

Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Coventry to take on Peterborough Phantoms in the Final Four semi finals. Tigers had qualified by topping Group B and would take on the runners up in Group A for a place in Sunday’s final. Telford and Peterborough had finished the regular season one place apart but the Phantoms held the better head to head record between the sides winning all but one of the contests between them.

Tigers had qualified for their third consecutive semi final and having lost the previous two, were hoping for a different outcome this year. 

The first period saw Telford dominate much of the action but they could not get past Jordan Marr in the Phantoms’ goal. With Telford outshooting Peterborough by a considerable margin it was surprising that Peterborough would open the scoring when a turnover in the Telford defensive zone led to Luke Ferrara finding the unmarked Jarvis Hunt in front of goal allowing Hunt to send the puck over Brad Day for the only goal of the first period.

Early in the second period Peterborough scored a second goal when Austin Mitchell-King passed to Lukas Sladkovsky who beat Day on the short side from close range.

Telford hit back with an unassisted goal from Harry Ferguson who skated in on goal unopposed and lifted a back handed wrist shot over Marr to get Tigers on the scoreboard.

Shortly after, the game was tied with a short handed goal. Ferguson was serving a delay of game penalty but Telford broke away up the ice and Louie Newell set up Scott McKenzie who scored with a cool finish to level the scores.

But the lead was short lived as a minute later Peterborough were back in front. Connor Glossop scoring from close range.

As the game entered the final minute of the second period, Telford were left with a mountain to climb when Ales Padelek scored a wrap around goal to double the Phantoms lead.

Tigers had to push forward during the third period to get back into the game and reduce the deficit. With twelve minutes left to play, Fin Howells stole the puck off a Peterborough defender and waited patiently for Marr to commit to one side of the goal then lifted the puck over him to score Tigers’ third goal.

With three minutes of the period left, Telford were level. Brilliant opportunism by Joe Aston saw him intercept a pass in the Phantoms’ defensive zone and then smash the puck past Marr to tie the game.

With no further goals, the game went to sudden death overtime. Telford dominated the extra period and retained possession well but would lose out thanks to a controversial decision by the officials. With Phantoms’ first real possession of note in the overtime period a shot by Callum Buglass struck the post and was cleared off the line by Vladimir Luka. But despite the protestations from the Telford players on the ice and those on the bench that the puck had not crossed the line, to the shock of the crowd at that end of the rink, the phantom “goal” was given by the officials and Telford’s season was over. Referees Ions and Ferguson left the ice immediately without undertaking the traditional hand shakes with both sets of players at the end of a game, suggesting they realised they had made an unforgivable error.

Video footage posted of the incident on social media after the game clearly showed the puck did not cross the line and Telford’s attempt to win the playoffs would be over due to an inexplicable referring error.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 4 Peterborough Phantoms 5.

Scorers: Harry Ferguson, Scott McKenzie, Fin Howells and Joe Aston.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented,”I’m having a really hard time communicating my disappointment and disbelief to what went on in our semi final game. My players and I can’t accept that result. We win or we lose – that’s hockey, but yesterday we didn’t lose. The game was decided for us by the officials, who made a huge error and didn’t have the courtesy or professionalism to offer an explanation or discuss the situation at all with us. We as a team were in disbelief and referees Ions and Ferguson knew that we wanted to discuss such a contentious and controversial decision that has effectively ended nine months of work for my team with the most horrendous of calls I have ever seen, which has cost us the opportunity to progress to the final. They left the ice in a hurry, heads down and headed straight to their dressing room and didn’t shake hands at the end of the game. I told Referee Ions he was gutless to which he replied, ‘I don’t know why you are having a go at me, it wasn’t my call,’ which tells you everything you need to know in my opinion. It was absolutely disgusting and I’m still raging about it! They then disappeared into their dressing room where I proceeded to tell Dave Farren (officiating manager at Ice Hockey UK) my thoughts about the situation and he naturally defends the incompetence and unprofessionalism of his officials and offered no explanation.

What can we do now? Absolutely nothing.  We showed the referees management team the video of the incident very quickly after the game but they showed absolutely zero interest, zero accountability and zero responsibility.  All they offered up was that they will learn from the situation! This is unacceptable. Mistakes happen in life but you have be strong enough to own up to them.

Every player on the ice knew the puck didn’t cross the line even the Peterborough players told my players it didn’t cross the line which makes it even more disappointing. It is extremely tough to move past this one as it leaves such a bad taste for everyone at the club.

One thing to add is that we can be very proud of our team coming from behind twice from a two goal deficit to take it to overtime.  We had the momentum going into overtime and we started the period well. I’m absolutely gutted for the players and fans and would like to apologise for not acknowledging the Telford fans when I left the ice but my anger and frustration got the better of me. I am very grateful for their support all season and want to thank those who travelled to Coventry to support us. It is not the ending we wanted and our fans deserved better.”

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