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Match Report: Hexagon Telford Tigers 11 – 3 Bristol Pitbulls

Hexagon Telford Tigers played their final league game of the 2022/23 season on Sunday evening.

Telford had moved in to seventh place in the league with a victory the previous day over Hull Seahawks. In order to maintain that position and avoid facing league champions Leeds Knights in the playoffs, Tigers needed a win or a Basingstoke defeat in their game against Sheffield.

Tigers have been short benched of late and remained without Ricky Plant and Corey Goodison but saw Lucas Price return to the line up.

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The opening period was a feisty one that threatened to boil over throughout. Tigers went close early on with a Vladimir Luka break away. Tyler Perre in the Bristol goal made a terrific pad save to keep the scores level. Rory Herrman hit the post shortly after.

Tigers took the lead in the eighth minute. A long range shot from Danny Rose hit Perre’s glove and bounced down off his leg pad and into the net. Within seconds of the restart Tigers had doubled their lead. Luka sent Fin Howells in on goal and Howells steadied himself and took time before shooting low past Perre to give Tigers a second goal.

Bristol struck straight back with a scrambled goal from Nick Coric who shot from behind the goal, hitting Brad Day’s pads and sending the puck into the net.

Five minutes later Bristol were level when Sean Morris’ shot went through Day’s pads and the puck trickled into the net.

Tigers were back in front seconds later. Straight from the next face off, Tom Carlon sent Herrman in on goal. Herrman shot low past Perre to put Telford ahead again.

Bristol levelled the scores once again early in the second period with a power play goal. Rhodes Mitchell-King was serving a boarding penalty allowing the Pitbulls an extra attacker, Caly Robertson scored with a wrap around goal.

Tigers responded by scoring five goals in the rest of the period.

With Morris serving a boarding penalty, Tigers took the lead. Luka hammered a shot past Perre for Tigers’ fourth goal. Shortly after Luka had a second goal when good play by Sam Watkins left Luka clean through and he finished with a shot into an open net.

Tigers were peppering the Bristol goal and added sixth goal shortly after. Carlon sent McKenzie clear on goal and the Tigers’ captain took his time and shot low to Perre’s right.

Minutes later Tigers had a seventh and Luka had a hat trick. Sam Watkins lead a 2-on-0 breakaway and unselfishly passed across the slot to Luka whose shot hit Perre and deflected into the net. Watkins picked up his fourth assist on the night with the final pass for Luka’s goal.

The final action of the period saw Tigers score an eighth goal with Herrman netting his second of the game with a low shot past Perre.

The third period saw Tigers continue their goal fest with Luka scoring again, with five minutes gone. His shot from a tight angle beat Perre who was too far off his post. Luka then added a fifth goal – his 50th of the season – with a well placed shot over Perre’s shoulder and rounded off the scoring in the game with a fierce slap shot that went in off the bar. Luka finished with six goals and an assist and Sam Watkins ended the game having set up five of Luka’s goals.

Tigers’ win sees them seal seventh place in the league table and a two legged Quarter Final next weekend against Milton Keynes.

Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 11 Bristol Pitbulls 3.

Scorers: Vladimir Luka (6), Rory Herrman (2), Scott McKenzie, Fin Howells and Danny Rose.

Man of the match: Vladimir Luka.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “It was a very good way to end our league season with two good wins, both with different performances, but to close out the league season with a 4 point weekend is a boost ahead of our playoff fixtures next weekend.

“A gritty, disciplined road win away to Hull and a convincing offensive display at home in front of a great crowd last night. We are not sure where the crowd came from last night but it certainly gives the players a buzz, playing in front of a packed house gets the team going and we hope to have that support again next weekend, we’ll need that support away and home next weekend as we take on the league’s second placed team, Milton Keynes.

“I watched the first period in the stands to try to get a different perspective on the game and then returned to the bench for the 2nd and 3rd periods. We moved the puck well, took our chances well and battled hard on the defensive side of the puck which is great to see.
All the guys were on top form but I have to mention Vladimir Luka, six goals in the game and to notch up 51 goals over the season is very impressive.

“Thanks to all the fans that came out last night and don’t forget to get your tickets for next weekend as it’s going to be a sell out.”

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