Nottingham Lions 5 Hull Stingrays 2
The Nottingham Lions secured of a four-point weekend at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening, beating a plucky, short-benched Hull Stingrays side by a 5-2 scoreline.
The Lions, fresh from their impressive 7-2 victory over local rivals Sheffield Senators just twenty-four hours earlier, were eager to go one better than September’s meeting between the two sides, where the points were shared in an exciting 4-4 tie at Hull Arena.
Neil Adams returned to the roster after missing yesterday’s win, whilst Mikey Rose, Chris Allen and Slawomir Kasprzak were all still absent.
The Stingrays arrived with just eleven skaters and two neminders, but they certainly didn’t come with damage limitation on their minds, as they took the game to their hosts in the first period.
Lee Bonner came the closest to opening the scoring for the visitors, when on thirteen minutes he managed to pluck a loose puck out of the air before unluckily striking Alan Levers’ right-hand post.
The game looked to be staying goalless going into the first intermission, when with sixty-nine seconds remaining Stephen Breisner forced home his first Lions goal after some excellent skills from Dan Hazeldine, who worked hard to hold on to the puck after skating around behind the Hull net.
Nottingham started the second period as they ended the first, doubling their lead inside four minutes on the power play, Rob Perks redirected Ben Wood’s goal-bound shot into the net, leaving Hull goalie Warren Gilfoyle completely stranded.
On thirty-seven minutes, Breisner scored his second of the night and the goal of the game, as he burst through from the neutral zone before showing great skill to coolly pick his spot, slotting the puck past a despairing Gilfoyle.
Any thoughts one might have had that the fixture’s outcome was now a forgone conclusion were quickly dismissed in the first ten minutes of the third period, as the Stingrays steely resolve saw them score twice via Kieran Beach and Jamie Cobley, to bring it back to a one goal game.
This seemed to spring the Lions into action and within a minute of Cobley’s goal, they were 4-2 ahead, courtesy of a Neil Adams strike on the power play.
With five minutes remaining, the game was finally put to bed as Luke Branin, bagged Nottingham’s fifth goal in an almost carbon copy of Breisner’s earlier classy finish.
The contest ended on a sour note for the home side as Perks was thrown out of the game for collecting his second ten minute misconduct penalty but this could not take the shine off what has been a great weekend’s work for the Lions, who now leapfrog Coventry Blaze into second place in the Laidler Conference standings.
Nottingham’s attention now turns to what is arguably their toughest game of the season so far, as they travel to the table-topping Deeside Dragons next Sunday (6.40pm). Matt Bradbury’s side will be looking to reduce their Welsh opponents’ lead to just to just one point, whilst a defeat for the Lions would see the Dragons extend their gap at the top by five points.
Stephen Breisner 2+0, Robert Perks 1+0, Neil Adams 1+0, Luke Branin 1+0, Dan Hazeldine 0+1, Ben Wood 0+3, Craig Wallis 0+2, Joe Wightman 0+2, Cameron Good 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 2-0, 3rd 2-2.
Shots: 1st 14-11, 2nd 16-22, 3rd 19-8. Total: 49-41.
Penalty Mins: 1st 6-2, 2nd 6-2, 3rd 56-2. Total: 68-6.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Alan Levers.