Telford Tigers 3 Nottingham Lions 0.
The Nottingham Lions battled hard from the get go but were unable to get on the scoresheet, losing by three goals to the Telford Tigers at the Telford Ice Rink, on Saturday evening.
Connor Glossop takes on the Telford defence.
Telford entered the game second in the Laidler D2 table just below the Solihull Barons, who incidentally are the only team to defeat Tigers in the five games they had under their belt prior to their clash against Matt Brabury's side.
The Lions hoped to notch their second win of the season and kick start their campaign with a four point weekend and despite the numbers on the score board, Nottingham were always in the game and controlled the ice much of the time until the very last second. Small errors and impressive Telford goal tending allowed the home side to notch their fifth win of the 2014/15 season.
Returning to the line-up Saturday was Adam Andrews and Slawomir Karprzak, whilst under-18 Hamish Hall made his first senior appearance of the season. Not making the journey to Shropshire were Lee Holland, Christy Johnson-Brown and Sam Adcock, whilst new-signing Stuart Parker was set make his debut the following day against Widnes Wild.
Dusting off the slow first periods of games gone by, the Lions set a quick tempo early in the period but despite the dictating pace and having two powerplays, they were unable to capitalise due to a combination of the Tigers icing a strong short handed unit and 16 year-old netminder Dennis Bell standing on his head to keep the score deadlocked.
Telford found little time in the Lions offensive zone due to their defence anticipating the Tigers passes and moving into the passing lanes, denying the home team any chance to set up. Relentless short sharp attacks were turned over by the Lions' defence several times and were followed up with smooth transition plays into the offensive zone where the Dan Hazeldine, Ben Wood and Ivo Dmitrijevs line constantly set up camp in the Tigers defence to step up and aid Bell in keeping the score tied.
Inside of the last three minutes the deadlock was finally broken when a Lions attempted puck clearance was intercepted by Tigers winger Karol Jets who wound up a slap shot from above the face off circle, which was tipped in by James Smith in a play Tom Hovell had little chance of stopping. The late tie-breaker saw the Tigers close out the period with a one goal lead despite being outshot 13-8.
Dan Hazeldine in action at Telford Ice Rink.
The second period began with both teams looking eager to get back on ice. The physical play ramped up, particularly from Conor Gordon and Adam Andrews demonstrating the Lions assets in the toughness department but it was not enough to stop the Tigers taking a two goal lead. James Callander lobbed Hovell after the puck took a strange bounce, which saw it land just over the line, a lucky goal putting the Tigers ahead by two.
An equipment minor immediately followed, innitiating a Lions power play, however they looked rattled and off their game following the strange second goal. Hazeldine and Wood worked Dmitrijevs to the front of the net where his close range effort was smothered by Bell, Dmitrijevs then instantly found himself instantly scuffling with the Tigers defencemen and the slow intervention by the officials allowed a further Tiger to join the fray and a scrum ensued. Once tempers had calmed and penalties were allocated, play continued with Dmitrijevs sitting out for a two plus two roughing minor and Tiger Karol Jets was issued a single roughing minor leading to four on four hockey.
Though the period closed without a goal for the Lions, they began to see multiple chances from under 18 Hamish Hall who used speed and agility to work in several shots on Bell and battled to hold the crease whilst lines mates Connor Glossop and Joe Humphries attempted to take control in the corners, though fruitless, it gave the Lions one of a few positives to contemplate during the second intermission.
Matt Bradbury’s men iced in the third with renewed vigor and once again forced Bell to make save after save and his defence were made to step in and block shots to keep the Lions from breaking the shut out. The Lions blue line held solid when the tide turned and the Tigers were forced to take shots from the point, this is not to say they were poor quality shots and Hovell was tested on several occasions and several near misses hit the metal work.
Hazeldine continued to pose a potent threat during the final ten minutes and the Tigers defence twice drew tripping minors, hauling him down as he tried to break through to the goal. Despite the pressure the Lions were unable to crack the short handed unit even when Josh Hustwick’s interference minor allowed a five on three advantage, the visitors continued to trail.
Though holding the lead the Tigers looked shaken and tempers boiled once again and amidst the games closing minutes Dmitrijevs found himself surrounded by three Tigers all pushing and shoving for the second time of the game, Shaun Weeks broke away and squared up to Ben Wood taunting the Lion and attempting to draw a reaction and a penalty for the Lions work horse winger. Wood was having none of it however and held iron discipline to ensure he was there for his team in the final critical moments.
Lions' MOTM Hamish Hall in action against the Tigers.
Conor Gordon stood tall on the blue line when he leveled George Young with a huge clean hit when trying to cross the blue line, just a shift later Wood received the puck, skated behind the goal and passed to Gordon at the point, where he unleashed a powerful slap shot that rang off the post in what was to be the Lions' last chance at pulling the score back.
Coach Bradbury put it all on the line in the closing two minutes and pulled Hovell to allow the extra attacker onto the ice. James Smith took advantage, receiving the puck in the slot, he took a wrist shot into the unguarded net and secured victory for the home side.
In a game that saw the Lions fall 3-0 it was a prime example of a score board not reflecting the closeness of the game at hand. The Lions dominated huge swathes of play and lacked only in finishing finesse against Tigers standout netminder Dennis Bell who took the home teams man of the match award. Hamish Hall beat off tough competition from Dan Hazeldine and much of the Lions defence to take the honours for the visiting Lions pride.
The defeat will be placed quickly into the history books as the Lions pride refocus their efforts towards the Widnes Wild at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening. Both sides lost on Saturday, with the Wild falling 8-1 to the Sheffield Senators and will be gunning Sunday's two points compensation as much as the Lions. An exciting game is sure to ensue, face off is at 1930, click here for ticket details.
Photographs courtesy of www.edchappell.com.
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 1-0, 3rd 1-0.
Shots: 1st 8-13, 2nd 13-13, 3rd 9-10. Total 30-36.
Penalty Mins: 1st 4-0, 2nd 4-6, 3rd 16-0. Total 24-6.
Lions MOTM: Hamish Hall.