Blackburn Hawks 3 Nottingham Lions 1
A difficult looking trip up to Lancashire awaited the Lions on Sunday evening as they headed North-West to take on an improving Hawks team fresh from victories over Coventry, Solway and top of the table Billingham Stars.
The Lions were hoping to improve on a disappointing performance against Coventry the previous evening and try to earn their first points of the year.
A flowing first period flew by with little incident, only a brief scuffle between Joe Wightman and Chris Arnone was particulaly noteworthy – Wightman was sent to the box for a 2+2 for roughing and cross-checking whilst his opponent was punished with a 2+10 minute misconduct penalty for roughing and dropping the gloves.
The period ended scoreless with Lions giving as good as they got – a vast improvement on their last visit to Blackburn where they found themselves three goals down at the same point in the game.
The Hawks took lead with a powerplay goal from Jordan Bannon three minutes into the second period (23.32) after Marcus Maynard had been sent to the box for cross-checking.
The Lions then had a goal ruled out as the referee looked to have correctly called that the net was taken off its moorings before the puck had crossed the line.
The Lions were not be denied a deserved equaliser however, as Gareth O’Flaherty raced-up the ice and cooly slotted the puck under Danny Brittle for a brilliant short-handed goal. (35.39).
Seconds later Blackburn managed to restore their advantage thanks to Tom King (36.42).
Both goalies had to be at their best throughout an entertaining period as the Lions headed into the third just one goal behind with all to play for.
As the Hawks entered the ice for the final period Rick Hughes took a tumble and fell flat-out on the ice much to the crowds amusement, sadly this wasn’t an omen for the rest of the game as the Hawks had a solid period despite the valliant efforts of the Lions squad.
Tom King scored the only goal of the third, Sam Gospel getting a piece of his shot but not enough to prevent it trickling over the line (53.03).
So, an entertaining game ended, once again with the Lions coming home empty handed. But Nottingham would have taken many positives from this game – at no stage did they look out of the running to take something from the Hawks on their home ice and some very promising performances from youngsters Sam Gospel, Dan Hazeldine and Joseph Steeples amongst others suggest the future is looking bright for the Lions.
However, in the short-term Nottingham need to start picking up points quickly, with every loss inflicted, it leaves them in a more precarious position at the wrong end of the table.
Whitley Bay are the visitors to the NIC next Sunday (29th Jan – 7.15pm Face-Off) and the Lions will be looking for nothing less than two points.
LionsTV interviews with Lions and Hawks players and staff should be online via our official TV channel in the next 24 hours.
Gareth O’Flaherty 1+0.
Period Scores: 1st 0-0, 2nd 2-1, 3rd 1-0.
Shots: 1st 12-9, 2nd 15-15, 3rd 16-10. Total 43-34.
Pen. Minutes: 1st 22-6, 2nd 0-4, 3rd 4-2. Total 26-12.
Lions MOTM: Dan Hazeldine.