Nottingham Lions 3 Widnes Wild 6.
It was a weekend to forget for the Nottingham Lions, as they lost their second game in as many days to the Widnes Wild, going down by a 6-3 scoreline at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening.
Slawomir Kasprzak netted his fourteenth goal of the season.
In what was an ill-disciplined affair, goals from Slawomir Kasprzak, Luke Thomas and Ben Wood were not enough to rescue the Lions' weekend, as they lost vital ground to the Wild, in the race for a top four finish in NIHL Laidler D2.
Nottingham were still smarting from their narrow 4-3 loss at Silverblades Ice Rink on Saturday evening but did welcome back Elliot Perrin and Reece Glossop, whilst no fewer than six Under-18s featured, as Connor Glossop, Joe Humphries, Hamish Hall, Luke Evans, Joe Gretton and Kieran Raynor all gained more valuable senior ice time.
After a bad-tempered and physical encounter the previous night, both teams started the game in a rather cagey manner, with little to choose between them during the opening ten minutes.
However, it was the visitors who opened the scoring after twelve minutes when Daniel Bullock was able to stab the puck home right on top of Nottingham goalie Tom Hovell's crease.
The Lions then did well to fight off a wave of sustained Widnes pressure, until two minutes from the end of the period, when Stuart Parker broke away and set-up Kasprzak who powered his way towards the Wild net and finished well to ensure the scores were level after twenty minutes.
Luke Thomas scored his third of the season, with a bullet from the blue line.
The second period began with Ben Wood and the Wild's Lee Pollitt 'dropping the gloves', and the Lions' feisty winger then dominated the proceedings, with the Wild's man receiving a 2+10 for checking from behind, whilst Wood was given a 2+2 for roughing.
Tempers then began to flare further, as two minutes later Reece Glossop was then ejected from the game, following a skirmish with Thomas Jackson in front of the Widnes goal, with the visitors then capitalising on the resulting five minute power play, as Calum Ruddick fired the Wild back in front on twenty-eight minutes.
Games between the two sides are traditionally, always close affairs and this was certainly proving to be the case once again, as Thomas levelled up matters on thirty-six minutes, when his shot from the blue line, flew through a mass of bodies and rippled the back of Nicole Jackson's net.
Three minutes into the final period, Widnes edged themselves back in front for a third time, after Pollitt poked the puck past a hapless Hovell to make it 3-2 to the visitors.
The scores were almost level once again, when Ivo Dimitrijevs struck the metalwork with a shot on a Lions power play two minutes later before a fourth Wild goal from Pollitt on the power play left Nottingham reeling and with only ten minutes to rescue the game.
Ben Wood's strike then got the Lions back within one goal of the Wild with five minutes remaining but their hopes of netting a game-tying goal were quickly scuppered seconds later, as Widnes made it 5-3 courtesy of Pavel Vales.
Ben Wood scored the Lions' third goal and came out on top in two seperate fights.
It was clear for all to see that the officials had struggled to keep control of the game from the start of the second period onwards and as the clock ticked down, the game slowly descended into farce, as a number of lengthy stoppages broke-up the final five minutes, with numerous roughing penalties dished out to both teams, along with match penalties for Parker and Thomas.
In the midst of all the madness, Widnes bagged their sixth of the night, thanks to a delayed penalty goal from Shaun Dippnall with sixteen seconds remaining, leaving Nottingham on the wrong end of a 3-1 season head-to-head defeat by their Cheshire-based opponents and a huge task to try and climb back into the promotion play off places, with seven of their ten remaining games being against the top-three teams in the league.
The Lions now prepare to face arguably their toughest challenge of the season so far, as a trip to unbeaten league leaders Solihull Barons at Hobs Moat Road beckons next Sunday (8th February). Face off is at 6pm.
Photos are courtesy of Peter McConnochie / Urban Scot Photography.
Slawomir Kasprzak 1+0, Stuart Parker 0+2, Luke Thomas 1+1, Ben Wood 1+0, Connor Glossop 0+1, Sam Illsley 0+1, Hamish Hall 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-1, 2nd 1-1, 3rd 1-4.
Shots: 1st 4-13, 2nd 15-8, 3rd 11-12. Total 30-33.
Penalty Minutes Total: 123-34.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Tom Hovell.