Hull Stingrays 4 Nottingham Lions 4
The Nottingham Lions left it late to rescue a point against the Hull Stingrays at Hull Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Robert Perks popped up with eighteen seconds left of the game to secure a hard-earned point for the Lions, in a game where they looked destined to come away with nothing.
The Lions travelled without Chris Allen and Neil Adams, whilst eighteen year-old netminder Tom Hovell made his first senior start for the Lions, replacing missing first choice goalie Alan Levers.
Returning to the Nottingham line-up were Dan Hazeldine and Joe Wightman, who missed last weekend’s defeat in Coventry, whilst young forward Connor Glossop made his Lions debut after turning sixteen last Thursday, thus being eligible for his first taste of senior hockey.
Nottingham got off to the best possible start, when just forty-four seconds into the game, Ben Wood capitalised on defensive error to squeeze the puck past Warren Gilfoyle in the Stingrays’ goal.
Three minutes later, Hull were level, Mikey Rose failed to get the puck under control on his own blue line and the loose puck fell to Declan Pearson to score short-handed. The third short-handed goal that the Lions have conceded in their last two games.
The home side then found themselves ahead on eleven minutes, after a fine shot from Ben Spurgeon from the point, found its way through a crowd of players and Hovell into the Lions’ goal.
Hull were now brimming with confidence and continued to pepper the Lions net with shots throughout the second period, with Hovell once again pulling off some fantastic stops to keep his side in the game and proving that even without Levers, Nottingham still have strength in-depth when it comes to netminding.
However, approaching the halfway point of the game, it was the Lions who found the next goal, again courtesy of Wood who deflected Craig Wallis’ shot into the net, right in front of a hapless Gilfoyle.
Six minutes later Lions’ Polish-import Slawomir Kasprzak was given two minutes for boarding, and was quickly joined in the penalty box by team mate Wallis for delaying the game.
The Lions were unable to kill off the resulting 5-on-3 power play, as Ben Sayer put the Stingrays back in front and set up a tense final twenty for the Lions, whose performance continued to improve as the clock ticked on.
The third period was largely dominated by the visitors but they still found it difficult to find a way past Gilfoyle who somehow managed to get his glove on the puck despite two manic goal mouth scrambles, which must have seen the Lions’ shot total rise by about ten in the space of a few seconds.
Nottingham did eventually find their equaliser with eight minutes remaining, Dan Hazeldine grabbing the goal.
This seemed to re-ignite the Stingrays, who came flying out of the traps and almost went in front seconds after the face off, striking Hovell’s metalwork with all home appeals that the puck had crossed the line being waved away by the linesman.
With just three minutes left, Hull did get their goal thanks to Pearson’s second of the night and it looked like the Lions were on their way to suffering two consecutive defeats for the first time since March 2012.
Then with eighteen seconds remaining and Hovell pulled for an extra skater, Perks was in the right place at the right time to fire home the puck into the Stingrays’ net and spark wild celebrations from his team mates on the ice and a huge sigh of relief from the away bench.
Matt Bradbury’s men will obviously see this as a point gained rather than lost despite being the favourites to take them both. They will however, be buoyed by promising performances from Connor Glossop, Tom Hovell and Man Of The Match Ben Wood.
The Lions thoughts now turn to tomorrow night’s home clash against the Coventry Blaze at the National Ice Centre (7.30pm), in what is a golden opportunity for Nottingham to gain instant revenge on the Blaze for last weekend’s 7-1 hammering. Ticket details are available by clicking here.
A post-game Lions Radio interview with Head Coach Bradbury can be heard by clicking here.
Ben Wood 2+1, Dan Hazeldine 1+0, Robert Perks 1+0, Craig Wallis 0+1, Christy Johnson-Brown 0+1, James Francis-Barrie 0+1, Joe Wightman 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 2-1, 2nd 1-1, 3rd 1-2.
Shots: 1st 7-16, 2nd 15-6, 3rd 4-24. Total: 26-46.
Penalty Mins: 1st 2-0, 2nd 0-6, 3rd 4-0. Total: 6-6.
Lions MOTM: Ben Wood.