Nottingham Lions 4 Blackburn Hawks 7
The Nottingham Lions ended their 32-game regular season with a 7-4 loss to the Blackburn Hawks on Sunday night at the National Ice Centre.
Goals from Gareth O’Flaherty, Nicky Balchin and brothers, Michael and Danny Rose were not enough to prevent the Lancashire outfit taking the points as they marched towards the play-offs.
With the Lions’ fate already sealed 24 hours earlier, as a Coventry ENL Blaze win condemned Nottingham to a two-legged relegation play-off and the Hawks having already qualified for the play-offs, this game had and real end-of-season feel to it with plenty of open play and lots of chances at both ends.
Blackburn’s Finnish import, Sami Narkia put the Hawks in front after four minutes, only for O’Flaherty to equalise two minutes later.
David Meikle gave the visitors the edge at the end of the first period, scoring with eight minutes to go.
At the start of the second, Blackburn looked to be in the driving seat, Jordan Bannon grabbed his first of three on the night before Narkia scored his second with seven minutes gone.
The Lions didn’t let their heads drop and fought their way back into the game thanks to goals from Balchin and then Danny Rose on the power play.
Meikle restored the Blackburn’s two goal advantage, before a penalty shot, coolly slotted past Hawks’ goalie Stuart Ashton by Michael Rose, again reduced the Lions’ deficit heading into the third.
Once again the Lions out-shot their opponents in the final period but couldn’t make that pressure count. Bannon completed his hat-trick with two goals. The first eight minutes in and the second putting a Lions comeback to bed, with three minutes remaining.
LionsTV has post-game interviews with Matt Bradbury and Cameron Good as well as Blackburn’s Danny Brittle and Jordan Bannon – click on the link on the top of your page to watch them.
All thoughts in the Lions’ camp now turn to the two relegation play-off games with local rivals Sutton Sting. Game dates and times are to be confirmed, so keep an eye on nottinghamlions.co.uk for further updates.
Danny Rose 1+1, Michael Rose 1+1, Gareth O’Flaherty 1+0, Nicky Balchin 1+0, Joe Wightman 0+2, Jack Clarkson 0+1, Marcus Maynard 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-2, 2nd 3-3, 3rd 0-2.
Penalty Mins: 1st 4-4, 2nd 0-4, 3rd 2-2. Total 6-10.
Shots: 1st 11-8, 2nd 17-12, 3rd 17-15. Total 45-33.
Lions MOTM: Cameron Good.