Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Yorkshire for their first visit of the season to take on the current league champions, Leeds Knights. With a long list of absentees already, Telford were disappointed to lose Rhodes Mitchell-King for a six games suspension after he was ejected from the victory over Bees for resisting an official who was attempting to break up a fight between Mitchell-King and Harvey Stead.
Telford made a terrific start to the contest and dominated the first period. At the midway point in the opening period, Tigers were given a power play after Leeds’ Noah McMullen was called for a cross check. Louie Newell and Harry Ferguson combined to set up Vladimir Luka to give Tigers the lead. Five minutes later the lead was doubled with Fin Howells scoring for the visitors.
As the second period reached eight minutes in, Leeds pulled a goal back through Jordan Buesa. Conceding the goal seemed to deflate the away team and Leeds were very much in control of the game.
In the opening minutes of the third period Tigers had another power play when Louis Colville was called for tripping, But disaster struck as Leeds intercepted the puck at their own blue line and Mac Howlett broke away to score short handed to draw the sides level.
With Leeds very much in the ascendancy, the next goal was going to be crucial and it went to the home side. Buesa scoring his second of the night. The Knights then added a fourth goal shortly after with Buesa completing his hat trick to give Telford a mountain to climb. Tigers task get even harder a minute after the fourth goal was scored when defender Jake Price was ejected from the game. Price took exception to an elbow to the head from a Leeds player and dropped the gloves but was called for fighting and given a five minute penalty. Leeds sealed the game with a late goal from Bailey Conger.
Final Score: Leeds Knights 5 Hexagon Telford Tigers 2
Scorers: Vladimir Luka and Fin Howells
Man of the match: Brad Day
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “It was a game of two halves. One good one bad! We got ourselves in a very good position after playing hard, physical and disciplined within our structure, stuck to assignments won our one on one situations and were good on the puck. The second half of the game was the opposite, we struggled with the quality Leeds have and subsequently made mistakes.
It feels like mentally we lost our way, our belief, one mistake and we sink too low, gave them too much respect and lost too much momentum so we can’t get it back. We were hanging in there in the third period for the first ten minutes and I wanted to call a time out at every whistle just to slow the pace a little bit we didn’t get a face off outside of our defensive zone in that spell of the game.
We can’t have those big swings of emotion if you want to be competitive in the key moments. The game gets to 2-2 and we have to show we have the grit and determination to play when the game is on the line.”