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Tigers Storm To Victory

Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Milton Keynes to take on the top seeds in Group B of the National League Playoffs. Tigers had continued their terrific end of season form into the playoffs with a double win over Raiders in their opening two games of the playoffs, putting them in a strong position ahead of the games against Lightning. Milton Keynes had lost both their opening games against Swindon but had picked up a point in an overtime loss in Wiltshire.

The opening period saw only one goal which was scored by the visitors whilst on the power play. The Tigers’ power play unit has been in top form and needed only six seconds with the extra man advantage to take the lead. With Lewis Christie in the penalty box for hooking, Archie Hazeldine and Jesse Sutton combined to set up Jaden Peca to score.

Midway through the second period Tigers had doubled their lead. Sutton and Peca were again involved and set up James Smith who beat Jordan Hedley in the Lightning goal with a cool finish. Five minutes later the away fans were delighted as Telford scored a third goal. Sutton recorded his third assist of the game when finding Louie Newell who shot low past Hedley.

Milton Keynes started the third period pushing hard to get back into the game and were handed a glorious chance when Tigers were giving penalties in quick succession. With Joe Aston serving a too many men penalty, Hazeldine was called for high sticking.  Some resolute defending and Brad Day at his best saw off the penalties but then Tigers were immediately short handed again when Nick Oliver was sent to the penalty box for slashing. But once again the penalty kill unit were on top form to see off the hosts with Day proving hard to beat once again.

The home team finally got on the score sheet seven minutes into the third period when Toms Rutkis netted to narrow the deficit. 

With Milton Keynes back in the game, Telford continued to defend well and broke away to score a fourth goal. Sutton scored to hand the momentum back to Tigers. Two minutes later the game looked beyond Milton Keynes. The home side pulled Hedley from goal to add an extra attacker with three minutes of the game left, allowing Sutton to score his second of the game into the empty net.

With the game seemingly over, Lightning scored two goals in a minute through Carter Hamill and Ross Venus to give Tigers concerns of a Milton Keyes comeback. But those fears were allayed when Fin Howells added a further empty net goal to seal a magnificent victory for Tigers.

Final Score: Milton Keynes Lightning 3 Hexagon Telford Tigers 6.

Scorers: Jesse Sutton (2), Jaden Peca, Louie Newell, James Smith and Fin Howells.

Man of the match: Brad Day.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “With playoff hockey you have to come to play and the team came to play tonight! Right from the start of the game they tried to be physical and pressured us hard and we were able to move the puck well and we created two odd man rushes in the first two minutes of the game.

There was absolute commitment from the team, players sacrificing the body, it was a phenomenal effort and we had great support from the travelling fans.

We talk a lot about playing the right way and being smart defensively but what I liked was we worked hard for our offence, we took the opportunities when they came, we scored some well worked goals, some excellent finishes. Of course we had to dig deep, they have a quality line up and are a dangerous team to play against but we battled hard and our penalty kill unit led by Brad (Day) typified that attitude.

We now have a very important game against Milton Keynes in our rink and we need a big home crowd to roar us on. This team deserve it.”

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