The NIHL National title race is well and truly on after another weekend of spills, thrills and a few shocks here and there. We take a look around the league in our latest weekly roundup!
Hull Pirates 4-3 Milton Keynes Lightning (After OT)
Sam Towner’s goal in the last minute of overtime secured both points for the Pirates at the Hull Arena on Saturday night. Matty Davies, Jason Hewitt and Kevin Phillips all found the net in regulation, but strikes from Tomas Kana, Russell Cowley and a last-minute Harry Ferguson powerplay goal sent the game into OT. Dean Skinns had a good night for MKL despite the result, making 45 saves from 49 shots.
Swindon Wildcats 5-4 Raiders (After OT)
The Swindon Wildcats did it the hard way against the Raiders on Saturday night, on another night of close, but yet so far for Sean Easton’s side. Chris Jones gave Swindon the lead but strikes from Ollie Baldock, Aaron Connolly and Lukas Sladkovsky put the Raiders 3-1 ahead. Tyler VanKleef pulled one back, but Jake Sylvester put the Raiders 4-1 up. Then, the Cats rallied, as Aaron Nell found the net with 10 minutes to play, before Tomasz Malasinski levelled the scores with 21 seconds to play in regulation. VanKleef netted the game winning goal 1:29 into OT to claim the extra point for the Cats.
Leeds Chiefs 3-2 Telford Tigers (After OT)
Lewis Houston is already writing himself into the Chiefs’ history books. He scored the first ever home goal for the Chiefs, and now he’s responsible for scoring their first ever game winning goal on home ice. Joe Coulter and Richard Bentham found the net in regulation, whilst Dominik Florian and Finley Howells scored for Telford. 2:56 into overtime was Houston’s time to shine, as he sent the home fans into raptures, sealing their first ever win in their new home.
Peterborough Phantoms 5-4 Bracknell Bees
The Phantoms claimed the win in their only game of the weekend, by narrowly defeating the Bracknell Bees. Corey McEwen scored twice and picked up the man of the match, whilst Brad Bowering, Petr Stepanek and Ales Padelek also found the back of the Bees net. Dominik Gabaj (2), Ryan Webb and Harvey Stead found a way past Jordan Marr in a spirited performance, but the Phantoms found the winner in the final minute.
Sheffield Steeldogs 4-3 Hull Pirates
Sheffield claimed both points in the latest Yorkshire Derby. Hull led 2-0 through goals from Bobby Chamberlain and Jason Hewitt, but Jordan Griffin and Nathan Salem levelled the scores. Chamberlain bagged his second, but that was as good as it got for Hull, as James Spurr and Vladimir Luka scored without reply to give the Steeldogs the two points.
Raiders 6-4 Basingstoke Bison
It was an entertaining encounter in Romford on Sunday, as the Raiders raced into a 3-1 lead after just over 10 minutes. Their lead was cut to one by Richard Bordowski. Lukas Sladkovsky made it 4-2, but Bordowski answered back minutes later, sparking a frantic minute of hockey. JJ Pitchley found the net 13 seconds later, before Sean Norris pulled another one back for Basingstoke, 38 second after that. Erik Piatak sealed the win for the Raiders. Bison Head Coach Ashley Tait received 10 minutes for abuse of the official and was quickly followed by Michal Klejna, who got 2+10, also for abuse of the official.
Bracknell Bees 3-2 Swindon Wildcats
For the second night in a row, the Swindon Wildcats found themselves behind early in the game and gave themselves a mountain to climb. Josh Ealey-Newman and Aidan Doughty struck for the Bees to put them 2-0 ahead, before two goals in 90 seconds, both from Toms Rutkis, levelled the scores. Just as Swindon thought they might have reached the summit of the aforementioned mountain, Doughty struck again with 9:57 to play, to give the Bees both points.
Telford Tigers 1-4 Milton Keynes Lightning
There was much, much more to this game than just the score, so let’s deal with that first. Jason Silverthorn scored the Tigers’ only goal before Russell Cowley, Liam Stewart, Cale Tanaka and Tomas Kana claimed the win for MKL. The major talking point was at 31:34, when Andy McKinney, Dan Rose, Thomas McKinnon, Tom Carlon, Leigh Jamieson, Grant McPherson and both coaches were thrown out of the game for their roles in a bench clearance. Dan Mitchell, Ben Russell and Hallden Barnes-Garner all got 2+2 for roughing/fighting in the same incident. The game ended with a total of 226 penalty minutes.
THE LEAGUE TABLE
The title race is well and truly on after the top two dropped points this week. Telford sit in first with 61 points, five ahead of Swindon, who are on 56.
Four points now separate Swindon and the Phantoms, whilst Phantoms have a four-point gap between themselves and the Hull Pirates (4th) and Basingstoke Bison (5th).
Sheffield are in sixth, with Milton Keynes a point behind in 7th.
In 8th are the Raiders, three points ahead of Bracknell, who sit 9th.
Leeds are in 10th, 9 points behind the Bees with three games in hand.