Solihull Barons 9 Nottingham Lions 3.
The Nottingham Lions travelled to Solihull Ice Rink on Sunday evening, facing off against the undefeated Barons. Taking points from the number one team in the Laidler D2 standings was never going to be easy but the short-benched Lions fought to the last man in their 9-3 defeat.
Dan Hazeldine bagged two goals against the runaway league leaders.
Absent from the visitors line up were Stuart Parker, Christy Johnson-Brown, Lee Holland and Reece Glossop. The juniors were also a notable absence, as they faced Sheffield at the National Ice Centre with the Under 18’s squad. Going into the match-up, Nottingham iced with just 12 skaters compared to the Barons 18.
Solihull began the game exactly how they intended to finish, dominating the Lions defensive zone with the Nottingham struggling to clear, as the Barons picked off the attempts to get the puck down the ice. Netminder Warren Gilfoyle and the defence held off wave after wave of attack until Edward Eaton cracked the besieged Lions’ resolve and put the Barons on the board after five minutes of play. Slawomir Kasprzak and Dan Hazeldine had the best attempts of the first period but were unable to convert their hard work into goals. Joe Henry put the home side ahead by two with two minutes left on the clock, which was the final scoring of the first period.
Once again the Barons came out and heaped the pressure on the weary Lions’ defence, it didn’t take long for a chink in the armour to appear, when former Lion Thomas Soar put the puck in the net, extending the lead to three. The resilient Nottingham defence then continued to hold their line under immense pressure, with the occasional break through by Hazeldine, Wood and Dmitrijevs.
A four minute power play then followed for Nottingham and in an amazing display of tenacity Kasprzak and Wood helped Hazeldine put away the first of two quick goals, the second came from Kasprzak who despite being hit, slashed and tripped throughout the game was rewarded by putting the Lions within a goal of a tie. Their hopes of an equalising goal wouldn’t last however, as the grafting Lions’ defence were unable to stop the Barons notching two additional goals providing a comfortable 5-2 lead for the third period.
Conor Gordon on the ice in what proved to be a difficult evening for the Lions.
Tom Hovell took the unenviable task of back stopping for the third period and a combination of a tired, short-staffed defence and a cold goalie allowed Joe Henry to complete his hat trick early on. Once again the offence would bring momentary respites to the defence but Henry tallied the sixth Barons goal of the night. Hazeldine found the twine midway through the third but it wouldn’t be enough for a come-back, despite a power play in the game's closing minutes. Taking advantage of the Lions’ tired legs and short bench, the Barons found yet another gear to score two short-handed goals and put the game to bed at 9-3.
In a disappointing night there were more than a few positives to draw upon. The offence, defence and both goalies never gave up and despite the lack of personnel the Lions dug deep and found the energy to ensure that after the 60th minute they could leave the ice knowing they gave it their all and could be proud going into the locker room.
The Lions return home next Sunday (26th October) to take on the Coventry Blaze at the National Ice Centre (7:30pm). Matt Bradbury and his coaching staff will be spurring their side on to draw on those positives and attempt to turn them into their third win of the season. Ticket details are available by clicking here.
Dan Hazeldine 2+1, Slawomir Kasprzak 1+2, Ben Wood 0+2, Ivo Dmitrijevs 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 2-0, 2nd 3-2, 3rd 2-1.
Shots: 1st 33-8, 2nd 24-7, 3rd 28-7. Total 85-22.
Penalty Mins: 1st 0-2, 2nd 4-6, 3rd 2-0. Total 6-8.
Lions MOTM: Ivo Dimitrijevs.