Nottingham Lions 3 Deeside Dragons 5
The Nottingham Lions’ hopes of automatic promotion took a blow on Sunday evening with a defeat at the hands of Deeside Dragons, who leapfrogged their hosts into first place in NIHL Divsion Two North.
The highly anticipated top of the league clash at the National Ice Centre did not disappoint with no fewer than twenty-eight penalty minutes and eight goals as Nottingham lost their one hundred percent home record, which stretched back to September.
The hosts took the lead four minutes into the match through Michael Rose, as he got on the end of Ben Wood’s pass, before slotting the puck home, giving the home side the perfect start to the fixture.
It took take eleven minutes for the ill discipline to start as Joe Wightman served a two-minute tripping minor and the visitors were first to gain advantage of the extra man as seconds later the Dragons equalised through Brian Worrall, as the Lions struggled to deal with the extra man.
After this the home side ended up on the penalty kill twice more in the opening period, Craig Wallis went to the box for tripping and goal-scorer Rose for elbows respectively. However, this time they managed to kill them both meaning the first twenty minutes finished one a piece.
In the second period the Lions saw their netminder Alan Levers go down to the ice within the first minute after a collision with a Deeside player but he managed to get back up and continue the remainder of the match
Regardless of the fact that Dragons players found themselves in the penalty box no fewer than five times, it was they who took the lead via Jordan Bannon.
Once again the Joe Wightman, Stuart Parker, Luke Branin line wasn’t to be kept quiet, as Branin scored the equalising goal for the home side at 31.18. The American picked up the puck in the neutral zone, before going one-on-one with Dragons’ goalie Edward Begley and smashing it into the back of the net.
Branin added a second four minutes later as that line caused more damage to the opposition with a powerplay goal. After picking up the puck in his own half, the import dribbled past three players, one of which tried unsuccessfully tried to hook his stick and then laid the puck off to Parker and then Wightman before receiving it again a yard out and slotting it home.
Towards the end of the middle period Deeside broke on the penalty kill, giving them the perfect chance to take the lead into the interval but the resilient Branin slid in front of the shot, saving the Lions from conceding a short-handed goal.
The third period carried on the same vein with Deeside sitting a lot of penalties. In fact the Lions had a five on three powerplay within the first two minutes but were unable to capitalise with their extra skaters.
With Lions on the powerplay, Deeside managed to keep hold of the puck when they got a man back on the ice. The puck then found it’s way to Jordan Bannon in the neutral zone, a one-on-one with Levers followed, leading to a short-handed goal for the visitors to tie the game at 3-3.
Minutes later, Reece Glossop went into the penalty box for an elbows call. The Dragons then passed the puck around the Lions’ zone before Andy Chappell gave Deeside the lead for the second time in the evening.
With just over a minute to go Matt Bradbury pulled Levers for the extra skater, but the hosts couldn’t get a hold of the puck or look threatening with it. Then with thirty-five seconds left on the clock Worrall scored his second of the night, placing the puck into the empty net.
LionsTV interviews with head coach Matt Bradbury and captain Luke Thomas will be available to view here from Monday evening.
The Lions will now look to bounce back from their first defeat since November with a trip to the side that inflicted that loss as they travel to Hull Stingrays next Sunday (17th February) with 5.45pm face off.
Michael Rose 1+0, Luke Branin 2+0, Ben Wood 0+1, Joe Wightman 0+2, Stuart Parker 0+2.