Hexagon Telford Tigers returned to home ice in their pursuit of a play off place.
Tigers had not beaten their opponents from Romford at all this season but they went into the game knowing that a win would confirm a play off spot. That or a Bristol defeat in Swindon would see Tigers guranteed a place in the end of season competition.
Tigers made a poor start to the game and were behind in the third minute. Marco Pascale’s shot was saved by Brad Day but the puck rebounded perfectly for Jacob Ranson to shoot into the open net. Within two minutes Telford were level. Great play by Aiden Wilson created an opportunity for Scott McKenzie in front of goal. McKenzie controlled the puck and shot in off the post.
Midway through the first period, Tigers took the lead. Sam Watkins forced a turnover behind the goal and the puck broke free to Lucas Price who backhanded a shot low past Ethan James in the Raiders goal.
Raiders were back level with three minutes of the opening period left to play. Tigers failed to clear the puck out of their zone and paid the price when Alex Roberts shot low past Day to equalise.
The game was getting fractious and in the dying seconds of the period. Tigers’ Danny Rose and Rory Herrman were assessed fighting penalties along with Roberts and Sean Barry for Raiders.
Early in the second period, with Tigers carrying over a power play from the end of the first period, Telford took the lead again. A well worked passage of play saw Vladimir Luka send a pass from the right circle to Ricky Plant who was behind the Raiders’ goal. Plant sent a first time pass in front where McKenzie hammered home a shot past James.
Tigers added a fourth goal with another power play goal. With Raiders’ Elliot Dewey serving a roughing penalty, Tigers took advantage of the extra attacker. Luka hit a powerful shot at goal which rebounded off James’s pads where Fin Howells was perfectly placed to shoot into the open net to double the home side’s lead.
Tigers’ Tom Carlon gave away a needless penalty early in the third period which led to a Raiders power play goal. Jake Sylvester scoring for the visitors with a shot from distance that beat the screened Day. Telford spent much of the remainder of the game pushing for a goal to extend their lead but Raiders were always dangerous on the break.
Tigers were looking to run down the clock and in the final minute of the game, Raiders pulled James from the goal to add an extra attacker. Tigers had several shots at the empty net from their own defensive zone but missed each time, which allowed Raiders one final chance with a face off in the left circle in the Tigers’ defensive zone. Raiders won the puck, shot at goal and Harry Gulliver managed to scramble a rebound home to draw the sides level with just four seconds of regulation time left.
The game went into overtime and Telford were still reeling from conceding the late equaliser. The home side spent much of the extra period chasing the puck and Raiders pressure paid off when two minutes into overtime they had a 2-on-1 breakaway and Roberts shot over Day’s shoulder to win the game for Raiders.
Tigers gain a point in the standings and coupled with Bristol’s defeat in Swindon, means that a play off place is now guaranteed.
Final Score: Hexagon Telford Tigers 4 Raiders 5 (after overtime).
Scorers: Scott McKenzie (2), Lucas Price and Fin Howells.
Man of the match: Jake Price.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins, commented, “We let that one slip. I thought we had it in the bag, it felt like we controlled the game, we played hard, played physically and the game felt like a playoff game at times as it had a some edge to it.
“We had a two goal lead going into the third and decisions we made in the first and last minute of the period gave them the opportunity to take advantage.”