Straight off the back of their 6-2 defeat to the Solway Sharks the night before, the Nottingham Lions returned to the National Ice Centre for their first meeting of the season with the Blackburn Hawks.
Straight from the start it was clear that this was going to be a physical game with Kieran Brown taking a two-minute penalty for clipping just 45 seconds into the first period. This physicality remained a common feature throughout the game but unfortunately was not equalled with goals. Adz Andrews took a two-minute penalty for the delay of the game at 8.43 before Aaron Davies was given a 2+10 for checking from behind at 15.29. Matthew Viney also sat for the visitors in the first period when he was called for slashing at 18.05. Both goaltenders were perfect through the first period of play and the two sides went into the first period intermission goalless.
END OF THE FIRST PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 0 – 0 BLACKBURN HAWKS
With 16 penalty minutes called in the first period it was clear that referee Andrew Miller was going to have difficulty in controlling these two physical teams. The high tempo and roughness of the game continued into the second period and Miller handed out another 16 minutes of penalties in the middle period as well. Firstly, Viney sat again for two minutes for holding the stick at 24.49 before Luke Smith was given a tripping penalty at 28.55. With less than two minutes to go in the second period Paul Stanley took a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct before he was joined in the penalty box less than thirty seconds later by Richard Slater who was given a ten-minute penalty for misconduct. The two netminders remained perfect through 40 minutes and the two sides remained goalless going into the final period.
END OF THE SECOND PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 0 – 0 BLACKBURN HAWKS
Similarly to the previous home game against the Solway Sharks a fortnight ago, it was a quick start to the third period that dashed any Lions hopes of claiming a first win of the season. First, Richard Bentham fired a one timer from the slot past Hovell at 41.05 assisted by Istocy and Duncombe before captain Oliver Lomax let go a fierce slap shot from the blue line 26 seconds later that went through a crowd of bodies and into the bottom corner to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. With the two penalty boxes remaining empty for the remainder of the game, the Lions were relying on their even strength play to try and close the gap.
This task was made all the more difficult with five minutes to go in the game when James Royds put the visitors three goals up from the assist from Lee Pollitt at 55.06, almost assuring the win for the Hawks. The Lions kept fighting for every puck though and Joe Humphries was rewarded for his efforts in the offensive zone when he prevented Stuart Ashton from achieving a shutout, scoring inside the last three minutes unassisted.
The two netminders were awarded man of the match for their respective teams after the final hooter, Tom Hovell finishing with a save percentage of 94.12% from 51 shots with Ashton ending with a 96.88% save percentage from 32 shots. The Lions next play the Solihull Barons on Sunday evening.
END OF THE THIRD PERIOD: NOTTINGHAM LIONS 1 – 3 BLACKBURN HAWKS (SHOTS ON GOAL: LIONS 32 HAWKS 51)
Images courtesy of Richard Davies / Chud Photography.