Blackburn Eagles 2 Nottingham Lions 13
The Nottingham Lions are just four points away from being crowned NIHL Division Two North Champions after they romped to a huge win over Blackburn Eagles at Blackburn Arena on Saturday night.
A young, short-benched Lions side showed little sign of weakness despite missing the likes of Stuart Parker, Christy Johnson-Brown and Craig Wallis as they overwhelmed their lowly hosts with a barrage of ninety-one shots.
The scoring started just over five minutes into the game when Daniel Hazeldine continued his fine scoring form with a powerplay goal for the visitors after Darren Shaw sat a two-minute minor interference penalty.
Blackburn then tied the game at one each ten minutes later through assistant captain Paul Mercer, after the bouncing puck finally crossed the line following a moment of defensive confusion in front of Sam Gospel’s goal.
Thirty seconds later Hazeldine gave the Lions the lead once again, the youngster netted his fifth goal of the season with assists coming from Joe Wightman and Luke Branin, proving how clinical anyone on their line can be.
A minute later Mikey Rose doubled the traveling sides’ lead. Once again coming from some slick passing in the Eagles defensive zone.
Two minutes before the break, Lions leading goal scorer Joe Wightman added fourth goal, putting the forward onto forty-five points for the season with some great passing and possession hockey in the build up.
Wightman scored his second goal of the night seven minutes into the second period with Branin providing yet another assist in the build up, the American’s twentieth of the season.
Thirty seconds later Rose broke away as a pass found him with lots of space in the neutral zone. However, when skating through on goal he was tripped resulting in a penalty shot being awarded to the utility man. He dusted himself off, skated up to the Eagles netminder Nick Saxton before firing the puck into the back of the net for Nottingham’s sixth.
Ben Wood was the next player to get himself on the scoresheet when he got the better of Saxton, inflicting more misery on the home side.
Just over twenty seconds later Reece Glossop got in on the act, scoring his fifth point of the season and the last goal of the period for Matt Bradbury’s men.
The third period started with an Eagles goal, reducing the deficit to six as Harry Bolton scored his first senior goal.
A minute later, Branin scored his first goal of the night, this time with Wightman turning provider and making the evening feel just that little bit longer for the Eagles.
With just over ten minutes to go Joe Steeples put the Lions into double figures, scoring his first goal of the season and only his third point all year.
At 55.19 Elliot Perrin had to leave the ice after taking a stick to his face, not helping the already short-benched Lions side. Dave Williams subsequently received a 5+game for the high-stick which signaled a turning point for the Eagles’ as their discipline began to go off the rails as their frustration started to show.
Heading into the last five minutes, anyone who thought the Lions would slow the pace down was proved wrong when Gareth O’Flaherty netted his first of the night with a powerplay goal. Wightman and Branin once again assisting.
Just less than three minutes left and O’Flaherty added another, again on the powerplay and in the final minute Branin scored his second of the night with yet another powerplay goal to finish off a busy night’s scoring.
With Sheffield only managing to claim a point up in Hull on the same evening, the Lions now know that a road win at Fylde Flyers on Saturday (5pm), followed by another two points at the National Ice Centre against Blackburn on Sunday evening (7.15pm) would see them crowned champions, securing promotion back to Division 1 at the first time of asking.
LionsTV post-game interviews with players and coaches from both teams are now available to view on the Lions’ official online TV channel by clicking here.
Ticket details for next Sunday’s potential championship-winning game against Blackburn Eagles are available here.
Daniel Hazeldine 2+1, Mikey Rose 2+0, Joe Wightman 2+4, Ben Wood 1+3, Reece Glossop 1+0, Luke Branin 2+5, Joe Steeples 1+1, Gareth O’Flaherty 2+0, Cameron Good 0+2, Luke Thomas 0+1, Jamie Hovell 0+1, Jack Baveystock 0+1, Elliot Perrin 0+1.
Period Scores – 1st 1-4, 2nd 0-4, 3rd 1-5.
Penalty Minutes – 1st 4-0, 2nd 6-6, 3rd 21-0, Overall 44-6.
Shots – 1st 8-22, 2nd 5-39, 3rd 7-29, Overall 20-91.
Lions MOTM – Sam Illsley.