Hexagon Telford Tigers opened their season with a trip to Wiltshire on Saturday night to take on Swindon Wildcats in the first game of the Autumn Cup.
Tigers were able to ice Jack Watkins who returned to the side after missing Tigers’ two challenge games last weekend but, Sam Watkins and Dan Mitchell were unavailable.
Tigers started with Brad Day in goal, Swindon with Renny Marr.
Tigers made a strong start, with Jason Silverthorn going close with Tigers’ opening attack. Tigers would score their first goal of the season shortly after. Swindon’s Floyd Taylor was given a tripping penalty and Tigers’ power play unit scored within 30 seconds. Scott McKenzie found the unmarked Austin Mitchell-King behind the goal, the Tigers’ forward passed in front to Ricky Plant who elevated the puck over Marr’s pads to give Tigers the lead. Andy McKinney then had a glorious chance to extend the lead with a breakaway on Marr but he shot well wide.
Tigers started the second period with two early penalties, Plant for interference and Jonathan Weaver for hooking, with Weaver arguing with the officials all the way to the penalty box. The penalties gave Swindon a 5-on-3 power play and, despite some resolute defending, Swindon levelled the game. Just as Plant left the penalty box to rejoin the action, Chris Jones rifled the puck past Day to equalise. Both teams had numerous chances to take the lead, with McKinney and Mitchell-King both shooting wide with good chances and Swindon’s Tomasz Malasinski hitting the cross bar and then forcing a pad save from Day. Both teams appeared to be physically tired as the period ended and a welcome break came ahead of the third period.
The teams continued to exchange chances with McKenzie going close early on and Sam Bullas for Swindon drawing a good save from Day. Weaver then hit the post with a shot from the blue line that struck the post square on and bounced to safety.
As the game reached the latter stages, Tigers’ fitness started to show. With just over two minutes on the clock left, Tigers’ fore check pressured Swindon’s defence into a mistake allowing Ricky Plant to feed the puck to Corey Goodison who smashed his shot from the slot through Marr and into the net. The Tigers’ players celebrated wildly, knowing the importance of the goal. Despite Swindon pulling Marr from the net for the final minute, Tigers kept the puck from their defensive zone and ensured that Swindon didn’t have a chance to equalise.
Swindon Wildcats 1 Hexagon Telford Tigers 2.
Scorers: Ricky Plant and Corey Goodison.
Man of the match: Austin Mitchell-King.
After the game Tigers’ Head Coach, Tom Watkins, commented, “It was a very close game and both teams were very evenly matched and the win could have gone to either team. Fortunately a very accurate shot from Corey sealed if for us, a great finish. I thought we worked very hard and battled all night so to come away with the win was very pleasing. Brad Day played very well, saw the puck well all night, sucked a lot of pucks in and when we needed him to makes saves, he did.”