Nottingham Lions 10 Coventry Blaze 3.
The Nottingham Lions triumphed over their Midlands rivals Coventry Blaze in an extraordinary, penalty-strewn game, at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening.
Four goal hero - Ben Wood.
Four goals from Ben Wood, a brace from Dan Hazeldine and individual strikes from Stuart Parker, Hamish Hall, Ivo Dimitrijevs and Lee Holland saw the Lions run out comfortable winners, in what was a fiery-tempered local derby.
Both teams were eager to bag the two points on offer and the local bragging rights, with each having suffered inconsistent starts to their respective NIHL Laidler D2 campaigns. Nottingham were still smarting from their 9-3 away defeat at the hands of runaway league leaders Solihull Barons, last Sunday, whilst the Blaze were also looking to get back to winning ways, after their 7-3 home loss to the Deeside Dragons the previous Saturday.
The Lions welcomed back defenceman Lee Holland and veteran forward Stuart Parker, along with their five-strong, contingent of promising under-18s, who all missed last weekend's defeat to the table-topping Barons.
The Blaze roster boasted a number of familiar faces to the bumper NIC crowd, in the shape of former Lions Gareth O'Flaherty, Rob Perks and Joe Steeples.
A hard-hitting first period saw a number of penalties called for both sides, with the Lions capitalising on the power play through skillful forward Hazeldine, after 9 minutes.
Seconds later, Nottingham's Polish import Slawomir Kasprzak was given a match penalty for a knee on O'Flaherty, which then saw the Lions' starting goalie Warren Gilfoyle called into action on a number of occasions, during prolonged 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 Blaze power plays.
Dan Hazeldine celebrates one of his two goals against the Blaze.
An unprecedented second period was to follow, 8 goals and 103 penalty minutes were exchanged in a stoppage-filled, twenty minutes and it began with the Lions scoring a further two goals, thanks to the outstanding Wood, Dimitrijevs and Hazeldine line. Wood finished off a sweeping attacking move on 25 minutes before netting his second of the night two minutes later.
Nottingham d-man Conor Gordon then followed his teammate Kasprzak to the locker room after he was given a match penalty for a high stick, this then triggered a huge conveyor belt of penalties, which saw either one, or both teams finding themselves short-handed for the rest of the period.
The Lions were the first to pay the price for being outnumbered, as they saw their three-goal lead disappear in the space of just two minutes, courtesy of power play goals from Philip Pollok, Sam Hammerton and Steeples. Nottingham were then able to settle and kill off the remainder of Gordon's five minute match penalty, with Luke Thomas, Adam Andrews and Dmitrijevs all making appearances in the sin bin.
Two separate fights then broke out in quick succession, firstly Hazeldine and Charlie Hammerton came to blows behind the Blaze net on 32 minutes, with the Nottingham man given 2+2 for roughing, whilst the Blaze's instigator was tossed from the game. 60 seconds later Andrews and Dale White 'dropped the gloves', with both receiving 2+2 fighting penalties.
On 35 minutes, Sam became the second Hammerton to be ejected from the game when his high stick on Thomas was the catalyst for the tables to turn in the Lions' favour, as Stuart Parker put his side back in front, with a sweet finish into the roof of the Blaze net on the power play.
Coventry's Steeples' 2 minute roughing penalty then gave Nottingham a 5-on-3 advantage, which was duly capitalised on by Hamish Hall's powerful drive from the point. Hazeldine then scored his second of the night eight seconds later, this time on a 5-on-4 power play, restoring the Lions' three-goal advantage.
Gloves fly as Adam Andrews gets to grips with Coventry's Dale White.
The third period was much calmer in comparison and saw Matt Bradbury's side dominate the proceedings from start to finish, scoring four unanswered goals to reach double figures for the first time this season.
Wood bagged his hat-trick with nine minutes left in the game before Latvian Dimitijevs got himself on the scoresheet two minutes later.
Wood then notched his fourth on 56 minutes and Holland rounded off the scoring with two minutes left on the clock, scoring Nottingham's sixth power play effort of the night.
Coach Bradbury's side now begin preparations for their busiest week of hockey in recent memory, playing three games in four days, starting with a trip to Hull Arena to face the Jets on Saturday 1st November (5.30pm), followed by a home clash against the Deeside Dragons at the NIC on Sunday 2nd (7.30pm). Tuesday 4th then sees the Lions host Great Britain Under-20s in a charity challenge match (7.30pm). Ticket details for all home games are available by clicking here.
Photos are courtesy of Peter McConnochie @ Urban Scot Photography.
Dan Hazeldine 2+3, Ben Wood 4+1, Lee Holland 1+0, Hamish Hall 1+0, Stuart Parker 1+4, Ivo Dimitrijevs 1+2, Craig Wallis 0+1, Cameron Pywell 0+1, Sam Illsley 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 5-3, 3rd 4-0.
Shots: 1st 12-8, 2nd 16-15, 3rd 13-9. Total 36-37.
Penalty Mins: 1st 29-6, 2nd 41-62, 3rd 8-4. Total 78-72.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Stuart Parker.