Sheffield Senators 3 – Nottingham Lions 3
The Nottingham Lions left it until the last few seconds to earn an away draw at Sheffield in a tense encounter.
Having beaten the Senators in their last three meetings, the Lions were odds on favourites to take all the points. However, they found themselves behind early on as Sheffield’s Tom Proctor fired past Nottingham’s debutant netminder, Dan Green, around the eight minute mark.
A scrappy first period nearly ended all square after Michael Rose hit the post for the Lions with two minutes to go. Despite Sheffield’s lead, Nottingham had begun to gain some confidence after their early setback.
The Lions continued their momentum into the second period – Ollie Betteridge and Joe Wightman combined well but failed to yield any goals between them.
Sensing an opportunity to capitalise against an under-strength Lions side, the Senators piled on the pressure towards the end of the period. However, Nottingham held strong and closed out, still trailing by just the one goal.
Things heated up in the third period and the Lions were subject to some intense pressure early on. Dan Green, brought in from the Panthers as last minute replacement for the injured Sam Gospel, made five good saves in quick succession to keep Nottingham in the game. However, after the Lions were called for having too many men on the ice, Sheffield used the advantage to score on the powerplay, courtesy of former Lions defenceman Jonathan Bell.
Undeterred, Nottingham pounced back two minutes later as veteran Stuart Parker, another Lions debutant, scrambled the puck home after a melee in front of the Sheffield goalmouth.
Buoyed by Parker’s goal, the Lions equalised in the 52nd minute when Luke Branin put the puck in the net off a rebound – the game was now there for the taking.
However, the Senators’ Joel Aheran burst the Lions’ bubble by putting Sheffield back in the lead with less than five minutes to go.
Sensing it was now or never, coach Matt Bradbury pulled Dan Green off the ice with just under two minutes left in the game. His gamble paid off as, with just 16 seconds to go, Michael Rose thundered one into the net, salvaging a point for Nottingham and delighting their traveling support.
By no means was this one of the Lions’ best games, yet they showed great resolve to remain focussed despite being behind for the majority of the game. In the end, a superb team effort paid off and Nottingham rescued a point that may prove vital in their promotion campaign, with several tough games ahead in the next few weeks.
One of those is next week’s away fixture at Deeside Ice Rink against Deeside Dragons on Sunday (January 20th). 6.40pm face off.
Luke Thomas 0+1, Michael Rose 1+1, Luke Branin 1+0, Stuart Parker 1+2.
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 0-0, 3rd 2-3.
Shots: 1st 4-8, 2nd 10-7, 3rd 13-19. Total 27-34.
Penalty Minutes: 1st 2-4, 2nd 4-18, 3rd 22-22. Total 28-44.
Lions MOTM: Stuart Parker.