Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to Leeds for their first ever visit to the new Elland Road ice rink on Saturday night.
The Yorkshire side finally moved into their new arena at the beginning of the month after spending the season so far playing their “home” games in Blackburn, Solihull and Coventry. The previous meeting between the two teams had seen Leeds win in Telford in a penalty shoot out.
Tigers’ injury list had grown longer over the previous week, with the team losing Scott McKenzie and James Smith through injury, joining Jonathan Weaver on the sidelines.
Tigers started with Brad Day in goal, Sam Gospel started for Leeds.
Tigers made a bright start to the game and opened the scoring on their first power play of the game. Adam Barnes was serving a hooking penalty for Leeds, allowing Tigers to make full use of the extra attacker, Dominik Florian smashed a shot past Gospel after being set up by Adam Taylor. Leeds returned the favour on their first power play, Andy McKinney was serving a high sticking penalty, when Joe Coulter levelled the score at 1-1.
A goalless second period set up the final twenty minutes with both teams needing the points for different reasons. Tigers scored early in the third period, Fin Howells putting the final touch from close range after good work by Florian and Jason Silverthorn. But Tigers switched off defensively after the goal and conceded a second goal when Richard Bentham was not closed down by the defence, allowing him to beat Day and draw the sides level. Despite both teams having chances to win the game late on, neither team could score which sent the game into overtime.
The crucial moment in overtime was when Florian was called for a slashing penalty, giving a 4-on-3 power play to Leeds. Tigers were caught out again defensively allowing Lewis Houston to score early in the power play, winning the game for Leeds. Tigers gain a point in the standings but see their lead at the top cut to five points after rivals Swindon won in overtime earlier in the evening.
Final Score: Leeds Chiefs 3 Hexagon Telford Tigers 2 (Leeds win in overtime).
Scorers: Dominik Florian and Fin Howells.
Man of the match: Fin Howells.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins commented, “We shot ourselves in the foot tonight, we should have had the win but gave up three similar goals with poor coverage of the slot in our defensive zone. We have to do better in those key areas if we’re going to win hockey games. On all three goals we gave up too much time and space, we got caught puck watching and a player gets a clear shot off which doesn’t give Brad much of a chance to make the save. We have to find a way to win these games and didn’t do that tonight, losing has to sting, has to hurt. It could be a big point dropped or a big point gained. Only time will tell.”