The Nottingham Lions continued their home stand to open the season when they welcomed the Hull Pirates to the National Ice Centre on Sunday night. The Pirates were coming straight off the back of their 7-6 overtime defeat to the Solihull Barons the night before, whilst the Lions had had the week to recover from their opening night defeat to the Telford Tigers.
The first period was all about the penalty killing for the Nottingham Lions. After Luke Thomas sat for boarding at 5.23, Joe Aston followed him to the penalty box just fifty seconds later for boarding and the Lions had one minute and ten seconds of five on three to defend. With some solid positional play deep in the slot and some outstanding saves from netminder James Hadfield they got themselves back to full strength.
The 5-on-5 lasted 32 seconds before the Lions again found themselves on the penalty kill after a bench penalty for having too many men on the ice, served by Joe Humphries and it was in this third powerplay of the night for the Hull Pirates that they took the lead with just three seconds left on their man advantage. Matthew Davies was the scorer assisted by Jason Hewitt and James Archer timed at 10.42.
The Lions continued to play a physical game against a physical team but racked up more penalty minutes three minutes later when Humphries was made to sit again, this time for boarding. Another man disadvantage for the Lions, another penalty successfully killed off. Nottingham would go into the first intermission level at one though when, with just under four minutes to go in the first, Richard Slater showed some superb puck handling from Elliot Perrin’s assist to bury the puck into the back of the net and give the Lions their first of the evening timed at 16.07.
END OF THE FIRST PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 1 – 1 HULL PIRATES (SOG: LIONS 7 PIRATES 15)
In the second period it was the Hull Pirates who were the ones to spend a lot of time in the penalty box but not before they took the lead again through Samuel Towner. The Lions were knocking on the door of the Pirates net and it was a great double save from Brown that stopped the Lions going in front, before the Pirates broke down the other end of the ice and put a second marker in the goal tally themselves. Samuel Towner from Joshua Gent and Kieran Beach timed at 22.43.
The Pirates would take their first penalty of the evening just half a minute later when Chris Wilcox was given two minutes for roughing in front of the benches and it took the Lions just thirteen seconds to level the game at two. Marc Levers with the goal from Ondrej Pniok and Warren Tait timed at 23.24.
Lee Bonner would then sit for the Pirates for slashing at 25.21 and the Lions powerplay made it two from two when Richard Slater got his second of the night with assists from Levers and Tait giving them both multi-point evenings. The Lions were leading 3-2 timed at 26.14.
The Pirates would take two more penalties in the second period with Lee Haywood and Jonathan Kirk both called for hooking two and a half minutes apart, but despite some great powerplay from the Lions, they were unable to get past Brown. Hull would make them pay for their missed chances with two late goals in the period less than a minute apart. Firstly on the powerplay themselves after Marc Levers was given two minutes for delay of game and James Archer scored his first of the evening from Hewitt and Davies at 37.16. Then less than a minute later they were 4-3 in front when Archer scored again, this time from Haywood and Hewitt at 38.02.
The Lions had a golden opportunity to level in the final minute of the second period when Joe Aston was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down on a breakaway, but his effort was well covered by Brown as he could only hit his left pad trying to score in the bottom left corner.
END OF THE SECOND PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 3 – 4 HULL PIRATES (SOG: LIONS 23 PIRATES 28)
In the final period the Lions looked strong, outshooting their opponents in the final period as they tried to tie the game up and force overtime. An early penalty in the third to Lee Bonner for boarding gave the Lions hope, but their once perfect powerplay was no more. Samuel Towner then took another boarding penalty for the Pirates at 47.04 to keep the momentum in the Lions favour but Brown was equal to everything that the men in white could fire his way.
With the Pirates back to full strength it was Hadfield’s turn to make an unbelievable save in the Lions net after he denied Hull on a 3-on-1 breakaway to keep the deficit at just one. The momentum in the final period was shifting to the visitors and when Adz Andrews took a two-minute penalty for holding the stick, they were firmly in control. The Lions managed to kill off the penalty but thirty seconds later at 53.41, the Pirates gave themselves an insurance marker. Lee Haywood scored from the assist of Towner as he managed to squeeze the puck through the only puck sized gap underneath Hadfield’s arm.
The Lions called their timeout at 53.21 and pulled Hadfield from it to give themselves the extra attacker, but they were unable to find a way through and it would be the Pirates who took the victory 5-3. Marc Levers was awarded the Lions man of the match for his multi-point evening with James Hadfield finishing with a save percentage of 87.5%.
END OF THE THIRD PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 3 – 5 HULL PIRATES (SOG: LIONS 41 PIRATES 40)
The home stand to start the season concludes next weekend when the Lions welcome the Solway Sharks to the National Ice Centre for a 6pm faceoff.
Action images courtesy of Richard Davies / Chud Photography.