Billingham Stars 2 Nottingham Lions 3
The odds were stacked against the Lions as they visited the TFM Radio Ice Arena eager to avenge a 7-1 home drubbing by the Stars earlier this month.
The Lions were missing a number of players for the trip including Marcus Maynard, Mark Corfield, Craig Wallis, Cameron Good and Dan Hazeldine. Also new signing Jonny Bell’s paperwork had not come through in time and he was unable to ice.
The Lions pride totalled just 15 skaters and a decision was made to remove back-up goalie Sam Gospel from his normal duties on the bench, as he iced alongside his teamates wearing an unfamilair #9 jersey.
An entertaining first period saw both teams giving as good as they got with Billingham drawing first blood through Martyn Davies’ first goal of the season from the point on 04.50.
The Lions kept up their workrate and concentration in the second and soon found themselves in the lead through two powerplay goals, firstly from Michael Rose (21.23) followed by brother Danny (26.41).
The Stars never looked out of it however and got back on level terms through Scott Ward on the half-hour (30.52). Then with seconds to spare up popped Christy Johnson-Brown to pounce on a defensive error to put the Nottingham back into the lead (39.44).
Billingham dominated possession in the final period as a resilient Lions team looked to hold on to their narrow lead. The Stars peppered the Lions net with shot after shot, but netminder Richard Griffiths proved to be impenetrable as he pulled off a number of brilliant stops to shut-out his former club for the last twenty minutes and earn himself a second man of the match award in as many games.
The final buzzer was greeted by jubilant scenes on the visitors bench and proved just how much this victory meant to the Lions.
Only a brave man would have put money on the visitors getting anything from this game, but a focused, hard-working team performance saw Nottingham take both points from a Stars team for the first time this season and were deservedly applauded off the ice by the home supporters.
Next up for the Lions, an away trip to Telford on Saturday followed by return match-up against the Billingham Stars at the NIC on Sunday.
Michael Rose 1+1, Danny Rose 1+0, Christy Johnson-Brown 1+0, Chris Colegate 0+2, Joe Wightman 0+1.
Period Scores – 1st 1-0, 2nd 1-3, 3rd 0-0.
Shots on Goal – 1st 14-9, 2nd 13-10, 3rd 14-9. Total 44-28.
Penalty Mins – 1st 0-2, 2nd 6-2, 3rd 0-2. Total 6-6.