Coventry Blaze 4 Nottingham Lions 4.
The Nottingham Lions took home a valuable point from the Coventry Skydome on Saturday evening, after an entertaining draw with Midlands rivals Coventry Blaze, in their NIHL Laidler D2 derby clash.
Christy Johnson-Brown tussles with his former Lions teammate Gareth O'Flaherty.
The Lions found themselves 3-1 down midway through the game but rallied in the second half of the match, scoring three unanswered goals to take the lead but a late Blaze strike left both teams sharing the points.
Slawomir Kasprzak and Ben Wood returned to the line-up, after missing out on last Sunday's home defeat to Sheffield, whilst last season's Blaze captain Adam Andrews faced his old team, after making his Nottingham debut last weekend.
Under-18s Connor Glossop, Joe Humphries, Joe Gretton and Sam Jackson also featured in the Lions' travelling roster, whilst netminder Tom Hovell celebrated his 19th birthday by being given the nod ahead of Warren Gilfoyle in between the pipes.
The hosts were eager to get some points on the board, after their opening weekend defeat in Hull and the new-look Blaze line-up included four ex-Lions, with Gareth O'Flaherty, Rob Perks, Joseph Steeples and Conor McNaughton all icing for the West Midlands outfit.
Rob McDonald and Tom Hovell stay alert to a Coventry attack.
The Skydome proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for Matt Bradbury's men last season, with the Lions finding themselves on the end of two defeats and it looked like that losing run was going to continue when after taking three early penalties, they found themselves two goals down inside the opening four minutes. A 5-on-4 strike from Phil Pollok followed by a 5-on-3 James Pease goal saw the Blaze take the early advantage and it could have been worse for Nottingham, with O'Flaherty's effort clanging off the crossbar in between the two Coventry scores.
The Lions were still clearly trying to find their rhythm as the period wore on but they managed to half their deficit with just over a minute remaining, thanks to a neatly finished goal from marksman Dan Hazeldine.
The second period began once again, with the Lions battling hard but struggling to get the puck into Coventry's danger zone and they were subsequently punished after 26 minutes, when O'Flaherty pounced on a defensive error to restore Coventry's two-goal lead and score a rare 5-on-3 short handed goal.
After the halfway mark, Nottingham began to show signs of improvement and found themselves back on level terms before the end of the period and both goals came courtesy of 5-on-3 power play advantages. Ben Foster-Wilson netted his first of the season on 36 minutes before Hazeldine bagged his second of the night two minutes later to leave the game on a knife-edge heading into the final period.
Three minutes into the third, the Lions took the lead for the first time in the game courtesy of captain Luke Thomas , who grabbed his first goal in over a year, with a powerful shot from the point.
Luke Thomas celebrates scoring the Lions' 4th goal.
On 49 minutes, Nottingham's Conor Gordon and Coventry's Pollock came to blows but with neither agitator able to come out on top during the scuffle, they then both received 2+2 roughing penalties.
With just over two minutes remaining the Lions looked like they were heading for their second win of the season but sadly, it was not to be, as Louis Brindle broke Nottingham's steely resolve for the Blaze's equaliser, giving his side their first point of the campaign.
The Lions now have a two-week break before they return to league action, when they travel to Humberside on Saturday 4th October to take on the Jets, at Hull Arena (5.30pm).
Dan Hazeldine 2+1, Ben Foster-Wilson 1+0, Luke Thomas 1+0, Connor Glossop 0+1, Christy Johnson-Brown 0+2.
Period Scores: 1st 2-1, 2nd 1-2, 3rd 1-1.
Shots: 1st 15-10, 2nd 6-16, 3rd 18-14. Total 39-40.
Penalty Mins: 1st 18-8, 2nd 10-2, 3rd 8-10. Total 36-20.
Lions MOTM: Joe Humphries.