Nottingham Lions 7 Widnes Wild 5
The Nottingham Lions narrowly edged a thrilling encounter with league new-boys Widnes Wild at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening, in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
A hat-trick from Mikey Rose along with strikes from Daniel Hazeldine, Chris Allen, Joe Wightman and Robert Perks made sure of the two points for Matt Bradbury’s side.
Both teams came into the fixture high on confidence, each on the back of two consecutive victories. The Lions picking up important wins over Midlands rivals Coventry and Solihull, whilst the Wild claimed impressive away wins in Sheffield last weekend before coming back from three goals down to win 6-3 in Hull the previous night.
Captain Luke Thomas returned to the Nottingham line-up after serving a one-game suspension, veteran defenseman Allen made his first start in four games, whilst ever-reliable marksman Wightman was fit to return after missing out last weekend with the flu.
The Lions drew first blood almost immediately when Wild’s Slovakian import Filip Supa took a charging penalty after just fifteen seconds, with Hazeldine capitalising on the resulting power play twenty-two seconds later.
Rose then doubled Nottingham’s lead in the eighth minute, squeezing in a shot to the right of Greg Ruxton in the Widnes net.
There was more first period misery for the visitors as Allen hit the home sides’ third goal, the former NHLer firing an unstoppable shot from the point with six minutes remaining.
Bradbury’s men started the second period on a cautious note, obviously aware of Widnes’ goal scoring antics in the latter two periods of their previous night’s victory but they could not stop the Wild breaking their duck after just one minute, Supa grabbing the power play goal.
Rose restored the Lions’ three-goal advantage on thirty-five minutes after some neat puck control on his opponents blue line, he was then able to break away and coolly fire past a hapless Ruxon.
Then with forty-seven seconds remaining, Widnes’ Troy Evans then ensured there was still all to play for in the final period, when he shot the puck into the net through a crowd of players, leaving home goalie Alan Levers with no chance of getting a piece of the shot.
Within three minutes of the restart, the Wild made it clear to their hosts that they were intent on taking some points back to Cheshire as Bobby Caunce reduced the deficit to one.
This was the start of a flurry of scoring activity as the two sides continued to trade goals over the next ten minutes.
Wightman bagged the Lions fifth on forty-six minutes, one minute later Andy Clarke found the net for the Wild.
Perks responded on fifty minutes before the Widnes narrowed the deficit once again courtesy of Supa’s second of the night, on fifty-two minutes.
Five minutes remained in the game when Rose had the final say for Nottingham, as he claimed a well-deserved hat-trick on the power play, ensuring the Lions saw-out the game and notched-up their third win in a row.
Next Sunday sees the second of three consecutive home games for the Lions, as local rivals Sheffield Senators make the short trip to the NIC (7.30pm), in what promises to be another thriller as Nottingham look to continue their winning run. Make sure you don’t miss out – ticket details are available by clicking here.
Daniel Hazeldine 1+2, Mikey Rose 3+1, Chris Allen 1+0. Joe Wightman 1+3, Robert Perks 1+0, Connor Glossop 0+1, Ben Wood 0+1, Luke Branin 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 3-0, 2nd 1-2, 3rd 3-3.
Shots: 1st 18-7, 2nd 10-14, 3rd 16-13. Total: 44-34.
Penalty Mins: 1st 4-6, 2nd 4-0, 3rd 2-4. Total: 10-10.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Mikey Rose.