Tigers’ loss cuts lead at top

Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Hull on Saturday night to take on the Pirates in a NIHL National League game.

Tigers had lost 7-4 to Swindon in the cup semi final in their previous game and were looking to get back to winning ways in the league. In Tigers’ previous visits to Hull this season they had won one and lost in overtime so were hoping to put a disappointing performance against the Wildcats behind them.

Tigers’ forward Andy McKinney was missing due to a suspension handed down by the NIHL Disciplinary Committee. A four game ban would see McKinney miss the next three league games after already sitting out the cup semi final defeat. Also unavailable were Jonathan Weaver, Nick Oliver and James Smith. Tigers added Sam Watkins to the roster.

Brad Day started in goal for Telford with Ash Smith in goal for Hull.

Tigers made a lacklustre start to the game and could not get their passing going. Day made a good early save, denying Jason Hewitt, who was convinced he had scored but Day kept the puck out. Tigers were then the cause of their own downfall. Thomas McKinnon made an ill advised pass from behind his own goal straight to the stick of Matt Bissonnette whose pass found the unmarked Matty Davies in front of goal. Davies sent a wrist shot past Day to open the scoring.

Tigers were under constant pressure during the period and, once again, had Day to thank for keeping Hull out – Day making a terrific save from Lee Bonner who was clear on goal. Shortly after, Bonner had an even better chance but shot wide. As the period ended, Hull’s Kevin Phillips took a tripping penalty to give Tigers a power play to start the second period.

Tigers needed just nineteen seconds of the power play to equalise. Brandon Whistle finding the unmarked Jason Silverthorn in the slot. The Tigers’ captain hit a wrist shot past Smith to draw the sides level. Tigers’ joy soon turned to despair as within a minute they were behind again. David Norris was afforded far too much time and space to pick a pass to the unmarked Jason Hewitt who tapped in at the far post.

Tigers fought back and drew level again. Dan Mitchell fought hard to win the puck behind the Hull goal and sent a pass in front to Jack Watkins who buried the puck past Smith.

However, once again Tigers’ defensive frailties cost them a goal. McKinnon looked favourite to get to an aimless Hull pass down the ice but was beaten to the puck by Bissonnette who went clear on goal and scored past Day to put Hull ahead for a third time.

Tigers had chances late on in the period with Scott McKenzie going close twice. Hull ended the period handing Tigers another power play chance when James Chilcott was called for tripping, giving Tigers a third period advantage for the opening first minute of the period.

Tigers’ power play was wasted as they did not get a single shot on target. Tigers pressed for the equaliser but as the game entered the final six minutes Hull took control. The Tigers’ defence got caught out on a line change, giving Jason Hewitt time to score Hull’s fourth goal. Just fifteen seconds after the restart, Hull hit a fifth goal with a piece of good fortune. Sam Towner’s shot hit the side of the goal but bounced out onto a Tigers’ defender, then onto Day and into the net. Telford gave their fans hopes of a comeback with three minutes left after Silverthorn scored a power play goal to reduce the deficit to 5-3. Tigers pulled Day from the goal for the final two minutes of the game to add an extra attacker but this allowed Norris to seal Hull’s victory with an empty net goal in the final moments of the game.

Tigers’ lead at the top of the table is cut to five points after rivals Swindon beat Milton Keynes in overtime.

Final Score: Hull Pirates 6 Hexagon Telford Tigers 3.

Scorers: Jason Silverthorn (2) and Jack Watkins,

Man of the match: Jason Silverthorn.

After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “Tonight was not our night. They’re a different team and have guys returned from injury which gives them a very different look. They have lots of ability across three lines which helps the balance of the group. It’s pretty simple, tonight Hull deserved the points – they were the better team. For us, our special teams did a good job, they scored two power play goals and killed the penalties off nicely. Tonight we lost the game in five on five situations, we have to keep it simple in future, be direct and play harder.”

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