Hexagon Telford Tigers returned to home ice after a 4-2 win in their opening National League game away in Dumfries against the Solway Sharks.
Tigers were without Jonathan Weaver, Nick Oliver and Danny Rose but added new signing Connor Lee to the line up.
Tigers made an awful start to the game and were behind within twenty seconds of the action commencing. Bees Marcel Balaz hit a low shot past Brad Day to give the visitors the lead.
With only two minutes gone, Bees had a second goal. Aidan Doughty tipping a shot from Dominic Gabaj past Day. Three minutes later Bees had a third goal and Tigers were reeling. Balaz shooting into an open net. Referee Ions drew the ire of the home crowd with some of his decisions and he called a hit by Tigers’ import forward Jesse Sutton as a check to the head and ejected him from the game. With Tigers already short handed with Ricky Plant in the penalty box, it meant an extended 5-on-3 power play for Bees. A fourth goal was scored with Balaz completing his hat trick with a short sided shot past Day.
Tigers needed some momentum and pulled a goal back whilst shorthanded. Fin Howells chased down the puck in the Bees defensive zone and beat net minder Brython Preece with a superb shot from distance. Tigers added a second goal before the period ended when the puck broke kindly to Vladimir Luka in front of goal with Luka lifting the puck over Preece from in front of goal to halve the deficit.
Just seventeen seconds into the second period Tigers had a third goal. Rhodes Mitchell-King’s shot from the blue line was tipped in by Jake Price.
Midway through the period, Telford were level. Connor Lee scored his first National League goal with a shot from close range after good work by Scott McKenzie.
Four minutes from the end of the period, Telford were ahead for the first time. Whilst Tigers were serving a too many men penalty, Howells pressured Preece into a mistake with the Bees net minder coming out of his goal to play the puck and then gifting it to the Tigers’ forward who sent in back past the diving Preece and into the open net.
Early in the third period Tigers had a sixth goal and looked like they had the game won. Lucas Price shot home a rebound off Zaine McKenzie’s shot to give the hosts a two goal lead.
But some sloppy defending late on in the game cost Tigers dear. An ill timed line change allowed Will Stead to reduce Bees’ deficit. Then a misplaced pass allowed Gabaj to draw the sides level and send the game to overtime.
Bees won the face off at the start of the overtime period and maintained possession, not allowing Telford to get a touch and then attacked the Tigers goal. Gabaj worked to gain separation from his marker and then shot past Day to win the game.
Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 6 Bees 7 (after overtime).
Scorers: Fin Howells (2), Vladimir Luka, Connor Lee, Jake Price and Lucas Price.
Man of the match: Connor Lee.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “I can’t help but feel we cost ourselves two points this evening. We took too many minor penalties, eighteen minutes, nearly a whole period in penalty minutes, the majority which we deserved. It is very difficult to win a game when playing short handed for two thirds of the game.
We had a rough start, but we kept our composure and turned the game with six unanswered goals we showed great character. With a two goal advantage going into the third we have to lock it up, play solid and see the game out. But we have more penalties, some very poor decisions on the puck in our zone cost the team dearly this evening. We need to learn what it takes to control a period to make sure of a different outcome.
I’ve also got to mention the play of Connor Lee. What an exciting prospect he is, just 16 years old and had us all on the edge of our seat every shift.”