Telford Tigers travelled to Blackburn to take on bottom of the table Leeds Chiefs. Leeds are still awaiting the completion of their home rink at Elland Road and are playing their home games at Blackburn in the meantime. Leeds have not had much luck since they were formed at the start of the season and recently had all their equipment stolen from their training facility and also suffered when several experienced players asked to be released from their contracts.
Tigers went into the game having beaten Leeds three times in Telford this season and, with the team on a run of five consecutive wins, Telford were looking to add to their points tally. Second placed Swindon lost to Basingstoke in a penalty shoot out over the Christmas period, giving Tigers an eight point lead at the top of the table.
Tigers were missing Jonathan Weaver, Brandon Whistle, Ross Kennedy and Ollie Lord, who were unavailable through injury.
Brad Day started in goal for Tigers, with former Tigers’ player Sam Gospel in goal for Leeds.
The first period was a very disjointed one, with both teams struggling to get their passing going. The only goal of the period was scored in the 9th minute, Andy McKinney continuing his recent goal scoring form with a well placed shot past Gospel. Almost immediately at the start of the second period, Leeds equalised. Richard Bentham taking advantage of some sloppy Tigers’ defending. Conceding the goal seemed to shake Tigers into life as they responded by retaking the lead thirty seconds later when Corey Goodison’s long range shot beat Gospel. Tigers added a third goal shortly after, James Smith scoring with a neat wrist shot to put Tigers firmly in the ascendancy. Just after the half way mark in the game, Tigers scored a fourth goal to take full control of the game. Ricky Plant finishing off a passing move between Jason Silverthorn and Dominik Florian. Tigers saw out the rest of the period and went into the break 4-1 ahead.
Tigers came out for the third period and looked to maintain possession and run the clock down as they were icing only four defenseman, with forward Adam Taylor filling in at the back.
The tactic worked until the final 5 minutes when Adam Barnes pulled a goal back for Leeds.
For the final two minutes of the game, Leeds pulled Gospel from the goal to add an extra attacker but Tigers defended resolutely and saw out the game to take two points on the road and maintain their winning streak and healthy lead at the top of the league table.
Final Score: Leeds Chiefs 2 Hexagon Telford Tigers 4.
Scorers: Andy McKinney, Corey Goodison, James Smith and Ricky Plant.
Man of the match: James Smith.
After the game Head Coach Tom Watkins commented, “I’m pleased with the two points this evening against a hard working Leeds team. Credit to them – they don’t quit, play with a lot of commitment and kept pushing all night. We got ourselves in another comfortable position at 4-1 and from there I would like us to kill the game off. We haven’t done that all this season, perhaps a credit to the competitive nature of the league but where we have chances to put the game to bed it’s frustrating when we don’t take them. A good performance tonight from Adam Taylor using his size to bulk out the defensive core.”