Fylde Flyers 3 Nottingham Lions 12
The Nottingham Lions are just two points away from clinching the NIHL Division Two North title after firing a dozen past the Fylde Flyers at the Sub Zero Ice Arena on Saturday evening.
Twenty-one year old forward Christy Johnson-Brown stole the show for Nottingham, bagging five goals and two assists, whilst another youngster Joseph Steeples also netted a brace.
The Lions were missing top-scorer Joe Wightman, Canadian import Jose Leon as well as veterans Stuart Parker and Simon Hunt but still showed little mercy to the Lancashire-based side who have struggled for points all season.
Surprisingly, it was the home side who found the net first with Ric Hulme finishing off a neat move to fire past Lions’ netminder Sam Gospel.
However, just a minute later Nottingham opened their account courtesy of Ben Wood and then found themselves in front seconds from the end of the period thanks to Christy Johnson-Brown.
Fylde certainly gave a good account of themselves in the opening twenty minutes as the Lions struggled to get to grips with the small ice surface at the seaside-based rink. However, any doubts that the visitors’ woes were to continue were wiped out in the opening seconds of the second period with Joseph Steeples scoring his first of the night.
The Flyers did briefly bring the game back within their grasp via a Bobby Caunce power play goal on 26.20 but Luke Branin restored the Lions’ two-goal advantage two minutes later on the power play.
The remainder of the period then became the Johnson-Brown show as he notched up a further three-goals in the space of just five minutes. Scoring even-handed, on the power play and short-handed, respectively.
The home side restored a glimmer of hope on 36.00 courtesy of Kurtis Hall on the power play before 17 year-old Daniel Hazeldine slotted home the Lions’ eighth goal of the evening to make the final twenty minutes almost a formality.
Fylde’s goalie Sam Heyes was replaced by Greg Ruxton for the final period but even a change of netminding personnel couldn’t stem the Lions’ tide as Gareth O’Flaherty scored his fourteenth of the season with four minutes gone.
Seconds later Johnson-Brown completed his evening’s scoring with his fifth and there was still time for Ryan Rathbone and Joseph Steeples to grab their second and third goals of the season, respectively, to round off the Lions’ dozen.
Two minutes remained on the clock when Fylde’s Joe Charlton was called for boarding on Rathbone. A scuffle then ensued which resulted in Charlton and Nottingham’s Reece Glossop exchanging blows as they grappled on the ice. Both players received a 2+2+Match for roughing whilst Glossop was also given an extra penalty for abuse of a match official.
Overall, a fully deserved two points for a Lions side that surely can now only be described as ‘champions in waiting’. A Lions Radio post-game interview with head coach Matt Bradbury can be heard by clicking here.
Matt Bradbury’s side now know that a victory today at the National Ice Centre against the Blackburn Eagles (7.15pm) will secure top spot for the Lions and ensure their return to Division One hockey after just one season away.
So get yourselves down to the NIC this evening and help cheer on the boys to the league championship in what should be a very special night for Nottingham hockey. Ticket details are available by clicking here.
Jamie Hovell 0+1, Joseph Steeples 2+0, Ben Wood 1+0, Michael Rose 0+3, Daniel Hazeldine 1+3, Ryan Rathbone 1+0, Luke Branin 1+4, Christy Johnson-Brown 5+2, Gareth O’Flaherty 1+3, Cameron Good 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-2, 2nd 2-6, 3rd 0-4.
Penalty Minutes: 1st 2-0, 2nd 16-8, 3rd 45-33. Total 63-41.
Shots: 1st 16-25, 2nd 19-29, 3rd 20-23. Total 55-77.
Lions MOTM: Ben Wood.