Nottingham Lions 7 Blackburn Eagles 3.
The Nottingham Lions claimed a bumper four-point haul on Sunday evening, comfortably defeating the Blackburn Eagles in a double points match at the National Ice Centre.
Despite only pride and league positions being at stake, the Lions put in a gusty and workmanlike performance and two goals from Ivo Dimitrijevs, alongside strikes from Joe Humphries, Luke Thomas, Reece Glossop, Warren Tait and Craig Wallis ensured Matt Bradbury's side climbed up one place to sixth in the NIHL Laidler D2 standings.
Ivo Dimitrijevs scored twice to reach twenty goals this season.
Nottingham were looking for revenge over an Eagles side which narrowly beat them by a 3-2 scoreline, in another double-points encounter at Blackburn Arena back in September, in what was both sides' first game of the 2014/15 season.
Coach Bradbury welcomed back defenseman Sam Illsley, whilst Ben Foster-Wilson, Lee Holland and Christy Johnson-Brown remain sidelined.
A talented brethren of Under-18s also featured heavily, with Humphries, Connor Glossop, Hamish Hall, Luke Evans, Joe Gretton and Kieran Raynor all gaining more valuable ice time.
Under-16 netminder and senior debutant Joseph Gent also backed-up regular starting goalie Tom Hovell, replacing absent custodians Warren Gilfoyle and Martin Chalke.
A competitive first period saw the Lions net two goals in the first ten minutes, thanks to strikes from Humphries and captain Thomas.
A sprightly Nottingham were soon pegged back however, as Blackburn halved their deficit, courtesy of Harry Bolton, who found a way past Tom Hovell with eleven minutes gone.
Reece Glossop then restored the Lions' two-goal advantage two minutes before the first intermission and was visibly pleased to have scored his first of the season, after missing most of the campaign through injury.
Luke Evans puts pressure on the Eagles' net.
The second period began as the first ended, with Nottingham scoring after just over a minute courtesy of Dimitrijevs. The Latvian forward's skillful play and finish put himself level on goals with top scorer Stuart Parker, with both on nineteen for the season.
Former GB internation Tait then got a piece of the goalscoring pie to make it 5-1 five minutes later, netting his second goal for the Lions, since returning to the sport in January.
Tait then turned provider on thirty-three minutes, when after winding and weaving through the Eagles' defence on the right-hand side, he then set-up Wallis, who ended the move with a clinical finish, in what has to be a contender for Lions' goal of the season.
After dominating the play in the second period, Nottingham raced out of the blocks in the third, as Dimitrijevs put himself top of the Lions' goalscoring charts with another fine, solo effort on forty-three minutes.
Sixteen year-old Joseph Gent in action during his senior debut.
With ten minutes remaining, sixteen year-old Gent replaced Hovell in the Lions' net for his first taste of senior hockey. However, the youngster couldn't prevent Blackburn netting two late consolation goals, via the sticks of Kieron Hardman and Tom Murphy but it was the Lions who secured the four points, whilst simultaneously lengthening their unbeaten run to three games.
The final double-header weekend of the season now awaits Nottingham next weekend, as already promoted local rivals Sheffield Senators host Bradbury's side at Ice Sheffield on Saturday evening (21st March - 6.30pm) before the roles are reversed the following day, as the Senators make the short journey to the NIC on Sunday night (22nd March - 7.30pm). Ticket details are available by clicking here.
Photographs are courtesy of Peter McConnachie / Urban Scot Photography.
Joe Humphries 1+0, Luke Thomas 1+0, Reece Glossop 1+0, Ivo Dimitrijevs 2+0, Warren Tait 1+1, Craig Wallis 1+1, Jamie Hovell 0+1, Hamish Hall 0+1, Luke Evans 0+2, Stuart Parker 0+4,
Period Scores: 1st 3-1, 2nd 3-0, 3rd 1-2.
Shots: 1st 15-6, 2nd 27-7, 3rd 18-12. Total 60-25.
Penalty Mins: 1st 2-2, 2nd 0-8, 3rd 2-2. Total 4-12.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Craig Wallis.