Nottingham Lions 8 – Hull Stingrays 0
The Nottingham Lions reclaimed the top spot in the NIHL Division Two North on Sunday evening with a commanding win over Hull Stingrays at the National Ice Centre.
After beating the Stingrays 6-0 in an away clash last week, the Lions headed into the game brimming with confidence. Hull sought to quash this psychological advantage with an aggressive start to the game.
Nottingham could not be bullied out of executing their game plan though and stuck ruthlessly to their task. They were rewarded in the eleventh minute with unlikely scorer Reece Glossop poking the puck beyond Hull netminder Jack Dalby’s reach into the net.
The Lions remained persistent in their counter attacks and Michael Rose made it 2-0 eight minutes later with a well taken shot on the breakout. Nottingham were then happy to ride out their lead to the break and ended the first period with a two goal lead.
The Stingrays refused to accept the game was beyond their grasp and started the second period with the same vigour they showed in the opening ten minutes of the first. However, the Lions kept their cool and veteran Simon Hunt showed his class, hammering home the third goal with authority after just two minutes.
The Lions then effectively put the game beyond the Stingray’s reach with goals in the 26th and 37th minutes by man of the match Dan Hazeldine and Ben Wood respectively.
The Lions started the third period with a healthy five goal advantage and continued their habit of scoring early on. Joe Wightman made it 6-0 within four minutes of the restart.
With the game seemingly beyond them, Hull looked again to impose themselves on Nottingham, checking hard and sending a few Lions players scrambling to the ice.
However, the Lions even had an answer to Hull’s attempts to physically dominate them in the latter stages of the game. Hunt racked up all 16 of his penalty minutes in the final period for some tough challenges, making it clear that Nottingham would not be backed into a corner.
The rest of the Lions showed their fighting spirit in the form of even more goals. Another veteran, Stuart Parker put one in after 53 minutes and American import Luke Branin completed the rout three minutes before the final buzzer, much to the chagrin of the travelling supporters.
While the Lions supporters were delighted at such a comprehensive victory, the night ended less than pleasantly for Nottingham netminder Alan Levers who took an unfortunate puck to the groin from Hull’s Brett Chapman’s slapshot which was taken after the whistle had been blown. As a result, Sam Gospel had to make a cameo appearance to see out the remainder of the game for the Lions.
Chapman was involved again moments later when play restarted. He and Rose gave the fans what they wanted when they threw down their gloves for an on-ice brawl that saw them both sent to the penalty box.
With two resounding wins over Hull in as many games, Nottingham seem to have well and truly put their defeat to the Stingrays in November last year behind them.
Solihull Barons’ earlier victory over Deeside Dragons on Sunday meant the Lions overtook Deeside and Sheffield, finishing the week at the top of the table. They now go into next Saturday’s away clash at Blackburn (face off 17:45) knowing their league title prospects are much brighter.
LionsTV post-game interviews with both sets of players and coaches will be available to view here from Monday evening.
Luke Thomas 0+1, Daniel Hazeldine 1+1, Ben Wood 1+2, Stuart Parker 1+1, Gareth O’Flaherty 0+2, Michael Rose 1+2, Simon Hunt 1+2, Joe Wightman 1+1, Luke Branin 1+0, Reece Glossop 1+0.
Period Scores: 1st 2-0, 2nd 3-0, 3rd 3-0.
Penalty Minutes: 1st 0-4, 2nd 4-2, 3rd 20-24. Overall 24-30.
Shots: 1st 17-6, 2nd 23-14, 3rd 8-7. Overall 48-27.
Lions MOTM (Sponsored by The Castle Inn): Dan Hazeldine.