As 2019 draws to a close, we take a look back at the results from around the league in the final weekend of the decade.
Basingstoke Bison 3-2 Swindon Wildcats (After penalty shots)
It was a win for the Bison in the only NIHL National Boxing Day game. The Bison held a 2-0 lead after goals from Adam Harding and Sean Norris, but Tyler Plews and Aaron Nell sent the game into OT for the short-benched Wildcats. There were no further goals in overtime, which set up the chance for Harding to score the winning penalty shot against the club who released him just over a year ago. He took the chance, dispatching the puck past Renny Marr and claiming the extra point for the Bison.
Leeds Chiefs 2-4 Telford Tigers
Andy McKinney starred for the Tigers in their win over the Leeds Chiefs on Saturday night. He scored and assisted a further two goals as the Tigers continued to build momentum at the top of the table. Richard Bentham and Adam Barnes netted the goals for the Chiefs, who outshot the table toppers, but Brad Day stood firm to deny them any further tallies.
Swindon Wildcats 4-1 Bracknell Bees
Swindon got straight back to winning ways after their Boxing Day defeat with a comfortable win over the Bees. Aaron Nell scored a brace, whilst Sam Bullas and former Bee, Tyler VanKleef, also got on the board. Dominik Gabaj scored the lone goal for the Bees on a night which saw Renny Marr make 31 saves from 32 shots.
Basingstoke Bison 6-5 Raiders (After OT)
The Bison came from behind to claim a dramatic overtime win against the Raiders. They were 5-3 down with six and a half minutes to go, but Michal Klejna struck with 53:34 on the clock to put them within one. Then, with four seconds to play in the third, Alex Sampford levelled the scores to send the game into overtime. Former Bison defenceman was given a 5+game penalty for checking from behind, 37 seconds in OT, meaning the Raiders would have to play the whole of OT on the penalty kill. Sean Norris struck with 62:29 on the clock to win the game for the Bison on the powerplay.
Milton Keynes Lightning 6-7 Peterborough Phantoms (After OT)
Callum Buglass was Phantoms’ Saturday night hero as he went coast to coast to score the overtime winner against local rivals, MKL. Brad Bowering, Ales Padelek (2), Corey McEwen, Martins Susters and James Ferrara all netted before Buglass’ winner, which came 20 seconds from the end of OT. Former Phantom Leigh Jamieson scored twice for MKL to help his side claim a point from the game.
Sheffield Steeldogs 3-1 Hull Pirates
40 penalty minutes were handed out in the Steeldogs’ Saturday night win over the Pirates. Bobby Chamberlain gave the Pirates the lead, but two goals from Jan Danecek and a further goal from Reece Cochrane sealed the win for Ben Morgan’s team. It was a night to forget for Ash Smith in the Pirates goal, as he finished with a save percentage of 87.50.
Raiders 1-4 Swindon Wildcats
It was back to back 4-1 wins for the Cats as they sealed a four point weekend on Sunday night. It didn’t start well for the Cats, as Floyd Taylor was given a 5+game penalty for boarding in the first period. But, after Erik Piatak gave Raiders the lead, Toms Rutkis (2), Aaron Nell and Chris Jones ensured the Cats would return to Wiltshire with the spoils.
Hull Pirates 5-3 Sheffield Steeldogs
It was the Bobby Chamberlain show in Hull on Sunday night as the Pirates claimed revenge on the Steeldogs. Chamberlain scored twice and had two fights during the game, which was almost as ill-tempered as the night before. Jason Hewitt scored two and assisted two for his side, as the Pirates returned to winning ways.
Peterborough Phantoms 5-3 Basingstoke Bison
The Phantoms claimed a four point weekend in the final weekend of the decade, with a win over the Basingstoke Bison. Alex Sampford and Sam Talbot found the net for the Bison, but goals from Petr Stepanek, Tom Norton, Corey McEwen, Ales Padelek and Will Weldon sealed the deal for the Phantoms.
Bracknell Bees 11-1 Leeds Chiefs
It was a night to forget for the Leeds Chiefs, who were comfortably and comprehensively beaten by the Bracknell Bees. Dominik Gabaj was 2+4, Josh Ealey-Newman 1+4 and Aidan Doughty 1+3 as the Bees ran riot at the Hive. Sam Gospel conceded 5 goals from 18 shots in the first period and was replaced by Miles Finney for the second and third periods. Sam Zajac dropped the gloves with James Galazzi early in the second.
Telford Tigers 3-6 Milton Keynes Lightning
MKL bounced back from their defeat against the Phantoms by travelling to the league leaders and claiming the victory. Former Phantom Harry Ferguson netted a hat-trick, whilst Liam Stewart, Cale Tanaka and Robin Kovar also found the back of the net. Andy McKinney, Scott McKenzie and Joe Aston scored for the Tigers, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to defeat. Tom Carlon ran into penalty trouble in the third, picking up 2+10 for boarding and then a further 2 for slashing and 2+2 for fighting.
THE LEAGUE TABLE
Telford will begin 2020 six points clear at the top of the NIHL National table. Swindon are behind them in second, with Phantoms three points behind the Cats, in third.
Bison are fourth, four points behind the Phantoms, with the Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs in fifth and sixth, respectively.
MKL are in 7th after a three point weekend, whilst the Bees move back up to 8th.
Raiders are in 9th, 10 points ahead of the Leeds Chiefs.