The NIHL National teams continued to prove that anyone can beat anyone in this league. We take a look at the scores from the weekend just gone.
Leeds Chiefs 3-6 Peterborough Phantoms
Former Phantom Richard Bentham netted twice for the Chiefs, but it wasn’t enough for Sam Zajac’s side to claim any points on Saturday night. Tom Norton, Martins Susters (2), Conor Pollard, Will Weldon and Glenn Billing all hit the net for the Phantoms, whilst Ryan Bainborough enjoyed another 60 minutes between the pipes.
Hull Pirates 6-3 Telford Tigers
The Pirates bounced back from their Thursday night loss to the Phantoms by toppling the league leaders on Saturday night. Matty Davies, Jason Hewitt (2), Matt Bissonnette, Sam Towner and David Norris all struck as the Tigers were comfortably beaten. Jason Silverthorn scored twice for the Tigers, with Jack Watkins collecting the other goal.
Basingstoke Bison 8-2 Bracknell Bees
It was a night to forget for the Bees as the Basingstoke Bison ran riot on home ice. Michal Klejna and Sam Talbot netted twice each, whilst Adam Jones, Tom Ralph, George Norcliffe and Sean Norris also got in on the act. Bees forward, Josh Ealey-Newman, was given 2+2+10+match for slashing, roughing and misconduct, with 46:26 on the clock.
Milton Keynes Lightning 3-4 Swindon Wildcats (After OT)
The Swindon Wildcats defeated the Milton Keynes Lightning in dramatic fashion on Saturday night. Max Birbraer scored his second of the night with just 20 seconds to play, before captain Sam Bullas notched the winning goal with 3:18 played in overtime. The Cats trailed 2-0 and 3-1 at stages of the game, but Aaron Nell’s side rallied late to pick up the victory.
Sheffield Steeldogs 5-4 Raiders (After OT)
Steeldogs captain, Lewis Bell, was the hero for his side on Saturday night. The Dogs’ #4 scored the first and last goals for his side on the night, with the last being 1:22 into overtime. Aaron Connolly was the undoubted star of the show, though, scoring all four goals for the Raiders in Sheffield.
Raiders 6-4 Milton Keynes Lightning
In an ill-tempered game in Romford, the Raiders claimed victory in regulation, condemning MKL to a one-point weekend. Brandon Ayliffe and Olegs Lascenko both scored twice, whilst Blaho Novak also scored, and Aaron Connolly picked up his fifth goal of the weekend. Raiders import, Lukas Sladkovsky, was given 2+10+game for slashing and abuse of the official, whilst the Lightning also picked up 16 penalty minutes.
Peterborough Phantoms 6-5 Sheffield Steeldogs
Phantoms did it the hard way on Sunday night, but did eventually complete a four-point weekend with a win over the Steeldogs. The Phantoms trailed 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 at stages in the game, but a shorthanded breakaway goal from James Ferrara made it 5-5, before Martins Susters struck a late winner for Slava Koulikov’s side.
Bracknell Bees 3-6 Hull Pirates
The Pirates claimed a four-point weekend with a win over the injury hit Bracknell Bees. The Bees were without their starting goalie, Adam Goss, as well as a number of skaters. Back-up goalie Danny Milton conceded four goals from 27 shots, whilst two of the Pirates goals were scored on the empty net. Ivan Antonov iced for the Bees, in what could be his last game before he sets off on a new adventure outside of hockey.
Telford Tigers 2-3 Leeds Chiefs (After penalty shots)
On paper, everyone would have expected the league leaders to comfortably beat the bottom placed side in Telford on Sunday. But the Chiefs pulled off a shock. Finely Howells gave the Tigers the lead before Patrik Valcak equalised. Jack Watkins put the Tigers back in front, only for Joe Coulter to level the scores again, 16 seconds later. Sam Gospel made a string of saves in overtime, before Lewis Houston and Adam Barnes both scored their penalty shots. Scott McKenzie missed his shot for the Tigers and Dominik Florian had two bits of the cherry when his turn came around, but he missed both times, seeing the Chiefs claim the extra point in the shootout.
THE LEAGUE TABLE
The Tigers still lead the way in the NIHL National, but the weekend proved it’s not a foregone conclusion just yet. Swindon are in second, with Phantoms and Basingstoke in third and fourth.
Hull are in fifth, with the MK Lightning in sixth.
Next come the Sheffield Steeldogs and Raiders. The Bees are in ninth position, with the Chiefs down in tenth place.